Recently, I listened to four young people tell their Award stories at a lunch held in Johannesberg, to celebrate 60 years of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. As soon as I heard them speak, I agreed to hand over my blog to each of them in turn, so that they could reach a wider audience.
Today, Emily tells her story…
My name is Emily, I am a proud Gold Award Holder and Brand Ambassador of The President’s Award For Youth Empowerment, which offers an equal opportunity to young people regardless of their social or economic background. It doesn’t matter what race they are, it doesn’t matter whether they are orphans, or whether they’re rich or poor or challenged in anyway. It just offers the same programme to all young people who want to do it.
In the year 2008 I received my Bronze Award. In 2009 I received my Silver Award and in 2012 I received my Gold Award. I discovered a lot about myself while doing the programme. I would have never thought I would do rock climbing or challenge myself to think about others before myself. Most importantly I discovered I can do anything I set my mind to; I have learned that as long as I am determined and if I push myself a little bit more, I can do more than I think.
For my physical recreation, I did and still do dancing. It helps me with my physiotherapy. Through dancing I can express myself without words and let my body surprise me. Today I still dance and have done shows at Joburg Theatre since 2011.
For my adventurous journey, I joined a group of participants from different schools and we went to the Magaliesberg in 2012. We hiked and did rock climbing and while going up the mountain one of my crutches broke but that didn’t stop me from reaching the end. I continued going. I even remember crawling at some point to get where I was going.
For my skills, I did a whole lot of different things: fashion designing, bead work and creative writing to express myself using words.
For my community service, I helped out at two different nursery schools in my area which I still do when I have free time on my hands.
Through the Award, I pushed myself because my body and my brain don’t always agree. It has helped me in life not to feel sorry for myself, as I only have one life and I will live it like everyone else.
I am currently a member of our alumni organisation which allows me to still be a part of this beautiful, life changing programme and most importantly inspire others. I have gotten opportunities to travel, as I attended the International Gold Event in South Korea in 2014 and met many of my Award family around the world.
There are still many more adventures to explore. I’m just so grateful.
I’d recommend the Award to other young people because you discover what you really love and you get a sense of fulfillment.