AN award for young people which was founded nearly 60 years ago is going from strength to strength in the Isle of Man, despite the fact that there are now so many activities they can get involved with.
The Department of Education and Children is licensed in the island to offer the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which is open to 14 to 25-year-olds who complete activities under the headings of volunteering, skills, physical, expedition and residential.
At any one time, there are more than 800 young people in the island participating through groups at all five secondary schools, six voluntary youth organisations, two youth centres and one outdoor activity provider.
Participants carry out regular activities and commit themselves to a minimum timescale of between three and 18 months, depending on which award they are taking part in – and young people learn a lot about themselves along the way.
Already this academic year, 25 young people have been invited to Government House to receive gold badges from the Lieutenant Governor, while 190 young people received bronze and silver certificates in a ceremony at the Gaiety Theatre.
Announcing the launch of the award in 1956, Buckingham Palace said it wanted to encourage the young citizens of tomorrow by helping them to ‘achieve a balanced development of their character’.
The Duke of Edinburgh remains a patron of the award, which was introduced in the island three years after its inception.
Award co-ordinator Alison Gawne, of the Youth Service, said: ‘It’s as popular as ever as it gives participants the opportunity to get credit for activities they are already involved in, as well as the chance to try something new.
‘Many particularly enjoy the challenge of the expedition, where they are given the freedom to take part in a venture of their own making, remotely supervised by adult volunteers.’
Joanne Howie, 21, completed her bronze and silver awards at St Ninian’s High School (although she finished her gold award through an independent group, Markee Vannin). She said: ‘What I got from completing my awards was an unbelievable number of skills – ranging from photography to five days’ horse riding and camping – that I can apply to my studies and career. Most of all, it gave me amazing memories.’
Charlotte Howarth did her silver and gold awards through Southern Explorer Scouts and the 18-year-old described her experiences as something she would ‘remember and cherish’ for the rest of her life.
To find out more about the award in the Isle of Man, contact Ms Gawne on 686051 or visit www.gov.im/education/info/doea.xml.