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President’s Award transforms young lives

Published: 
Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) now known in Trinidad and Tobago as the President’s Award under the patronage of the President of Trinidad and Tobago, was launched in 1964 as a pilot project with the members of the Cadet Force.

Similar youth awards programmes based on the Duke of Edinburgh Award are available in 144 nations and the purpose of founding the programme in 1956 was to help “countless young people on their sometimes difficult path to adulthood”. The DofE is the world’s leading youth achievement award, giving millions of 14 to 24 year olds the opportunity to be the very best they can be. Most importantly, participants did not have to wear a uniform to take part in the programme like scouts or cadets.

How does the President’s Award work?

The programme helps young people between the ages of 14-24 years to set objectives in the following areas:

1. Volunteering—giving service to individuals or their community

2. Physical–improving in an area of sport, dance or fitness

3. Skills–developing practical and social skills

4. Expedition–planning, training and completing an adventurous journey in Trinidad or Tobago or overseas

5. Residential project to be accomplished

6. Opportunity for international travel–Silver and Gold only

There are three medals that participants can aim for: Bronze (must be completed in six months); Silver (must be completed within six–12 months); or Gold when aged 16 (must be completed within 12-18 months). For example–to complete a Silver award it requires six months volunteering and a minimum of six months on either physical or skills.

The participants are guided by a set of principles and by young people themselves. There are a lot of different activities that participants can choose from and are passionate about. I took up rugby as my sport when I was going for my gold medal. A woman playing rugby in those days was not accepted but Jose Nivet, who was the captain of the Carib Rugby Club at that time, gave me the opportunity to fulfil and achieve my goal. My family lived in Belmont and I would do a lap around the Savannah, then play rugby in the Savannah, then run home. I became super fit.

The young people who joined the President’s Award indicated the following benefits:

· opportunities to help others

· continue with volunteering/ voluntary activities after achieving their medal

· make a positive difference to their local community

· develop self-esteem

· become better at sport or physical activity

· opportunity to try activities they would never have tried before

· improve their self-belief

· meet leaders who inspire them

· learnt to work in a team

· become a more responsible person

In the UK, a study commissioned by the DofE set out to examine delivery and organisation of the DofE in the secure estate and explore implications for young offenders and staff providing DofE programmes.

The CRIME-PICS ll analysis indicated that after engaging in DofE activities young people in this study demonstrated a more positive attitude in relation to:

– offending in general

– higher levels of victim empathy

– less perceived reward for crime

– reduced anticipation of re-offending

–perceived fewer life problems in future.

The findings also suggest that their DofE fostered realization of an alternative and attainable way of life other than crime, among young people in the secure estate.

The President’s Award has inspired and transformed the lives of the young people from all walk of life, including mine.

From volunteering to physical activities, life skills to expeditions, completing the various tasks can be viewed as a path to a brighter future, valued by employers and universities.

The programme is flexible and develops young people for life and work.

•Principals of schools who would like to have the President’s Award as a viable activity can contact The President's Award—Trinidad and Tobago headquarters, located at Narine Trace via Frederick Street, Curepe. Phone: +1-868-663-6158

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