Last weekend was a busy one as we drove to Plymouth to drop Chloe off on her new adventure at University. I am not ashamed to say that it was hard leaving her and I did shed a few tears. However, I also know that she is more than ready for this. She worked so hard to get the results she needed which I shared in this previous post The Girl Who Flew Under the Radar.
One of the things Chloe did throughout her GCSE and A Levels was to take on extracurricular activities that are recognised by Universities and support a students application. To get into the popular uni’s and courses you need to show that you are a well-rounded person; admissions tutors look for more than just academic qualifications.
The Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award was one such initiative she undertook with school. With assistance from adult leaders, participants select and set objectives in each of the following areas:
- Volunteering: undertaking service to individuals or the community
- Physical: improving in an area of sport, dance or fitness activities
- Skills: developing practical and social skills and personal interests
- Expedition: planning, training for, and completion of an adventurous journey in the UK or abroad
The award develops young people and can give them new skills and experiences that will help them in further study, employment and (more importantly) personal development. Many schools offer the DofE awards to their older students, other young people do it through youth groups, church groups or similar. Chloe used her Hockey achievements and volunteered by helping young people.
DofE offers young people the chance to really improve themselves but for some this comes with a financial cost that prohibits them from getting involved. Young people may need kit or resources that they cannot afford, and it is often those young people who benefit the most from the programme. Thankfully this has been recognised and DofE along with their strategic partner St. James’s Place are committed to raising vital funds that will support the DofE charity.
Over the weekend of 15th and 16th September, as many as 1,000 hikers took part in the 2018 Adventure, each committing to raise at least £150 in sponsorship to support the DofE Charity. These funds will ensure more young people can get involved in DofE Awards in the future, giving them the tools to fulfil their potential and lead happier healthier lives. Just £60 could help a young person facing financial hardship access kit, transport or materials to do their DofE. £100 could fund a front-line team member for a day – each team member positively impacts thousands of young lives each year – and £250 could fund the training of a DofE expedition volunteer, meaning young people can safely enjoy great outdoors experiences together.
The adventure weekend consisted of adults walking 30K on Saturday, camping (and partying) in the evening before walking a further 20K on the Sunday. The St. James’s Place team and DofE organization set up a base camp at Postlip Hall Farm, welcoming all returnees back to tipis, caterers and a celebratory party recognising their fundraising achievements. I was told the atmosphere was awesome and people really enjoyed themselves. Each person had a two-person tent ready for them to sleep in and of course, once they had completed the challenge, they would receive a medal to go with the sense of achievement in walking such a long distance in aid of a good cause.
I joined the walkers at the start line on Sunday morning where they all started walking before 9am. It was a huge personal challenge for many and 50K over a weekend should not be underestimated. The walkers started and finished near Cleeve Hill which is a beautiful backdrop but a tough terrain! I chatted to some of the walkers about why they had got involved. A group of men explained to me that they were ‘desk warriors’ and someone had suggested they do the walk to be active for a change. They said the day before had been hard work and some had blisters to show! However, they were determined to do it until the end.
Many of the participants included members of the wider St. James’s Place community and I was inspired by their stories, but more by their commitment and enthusiasm. As a former teacher, I told them how much DofE matters to young people and that what they were doing would have such a positive impact on the young people which in turn could have a huge impact on their futures.
Life is really tough for some kids, and I have witnessed that first-hand. Previously I worked with young people on the edge of exclusion and others who were socially excluded from so much in society, often due to poverty. Schemes like DofE, and the work undertaken by the St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation can help pull young people back into society and give them a sense of purpose and achievement. It is obvious that St. James’s Place put a lot of emphasis on supporting social issues and are eager to drive positive change. Therefore, to see so many people giving up their weekend to raise these funds was heart-warming.
I want to congratulate all who took part and to the staff and volunteers who all made the adventure such a success.