Coast Mountain Academy students Bella Perroni and Kate Rowan love learning and they also love giving back. The pair took their high school education a step further last year by participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
The award program has been around since 1956 when Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, decided to create a program that would help young people develop a sense of responsibility to themselves and to their communities based on his learning from Kurt Hahn, a German educator who launched Outward Bound.
In the 50th year of the award's existence it is now being offered in the Sea to Sky corridor. Brad Gooderham, one of the faculty members at Coast Mountain Academy, is now a regional field officer with the program and students at this school are working with him on the award. Gooderham is currently looking for other students outside of his independent school who are interested in working toward the award.
According to Gooderham, the benefits of going through the program are practically immeasurable.
“It formalizes a way that students demonstrate skill development, character building and service,” said Gooderham at his school office inside the Quest University campus in Squamish. “It’s a really neat way for students to show what they’re doing outside of school and to have some sort of recognition for their achievements.”
The award breaks down into four components: community service, skill development, physical recreation and adventurous journey. The award starts at the bronze level for those over the age of 14, silver for those over 15 and gold for people over 16. Gooderham said most participants complete the gold level in three years.
Bella and Kate both completed the bronze level and they are now working toward silver. They got into the program at their previous school and they are simply carrying the work on at their new school.
“It’s a lot of activities and volunteering that I probably wouldn’t have done unless I was participating in the award,” said Bella during a Google Hangout chat last week. “It got me out there doing stuff I wouldn’t have done otherwise.”
Kate said participating in the award made her think ahead and plan her life.
“I’m really looking forward to trying a new skill and I think wilderness survival could be my skill, that sounds like a lot of fun,” said Kate.
Both students said they would encourage any young person looking for a challenge to take on the award. Bella said she got all kinds of things from her participation in the program, including improved time management skills. Kate said the got her over her fear of using the telephone.
“For the longest time I’ve been scared of calling people on the phone,” she said. “With Duke of Edinburgh I was forced to call people ask if I could volunteer there or if they could help me with a certain thing or join me on a skill. I really had to step out of my comfort zone when it came to calling people.”
An information meeting on the award program is planned for Friday, Nov. 8 at Coast Mountain Academy between 6 and 7 p.m. Gooderham said he is looking ahead to potential future information meetings in Whistler.