Emma Thibodeau, an Elk Valley local, has been presented with the Duke of Edinburgh (DoE) award. While the award is not competitive, its goal is to make participants aged between 14 and 24 become the best version of themselves. The award is available in 144 countries and was founded in 1956 in the United Kingdom by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. Since its inception in Canada in 1964, there have been approximately half a million Canadians who have received the award and there are 50,000 participants currently enrolled, according to the DoE’s website.
The DoE is a multifaceted award where applicants complete self-improvement exercises that were modelled as a solution of Kurt Hahn’s “Six Declines of Modern Youth.” The six declines are, “fitness due to modern methods of locomotion, Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis, Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life, Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship, Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers and Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted.”
“You are required to record three months of skill development, physical activity, and service. The award asks for an average of one hour/week in each of these areas. Youth are also asked to fulfill three extra months in one of those areas. In addition, you have to participate in a practice journey and an adventurous journey,” said Thibodeau in an email to The Free Press. “For the practice journey, you must write a paragraph about what you did and how it helped you prepare for the adventurous journey. For the adventurous journey, you need to write a page on what you did and all the details of that camp, including distance traveled under your own power.”
The award is split into bronze, silver and gold milestones. As a person progresses through the awards, the subsequent milestone becomes bigger, with an increased level of commitment and effort. Thibodeau has just completed her bronze level award.
“The bronze level took six months to complete. I have been working at the silver level for about six weeks. I started working on my silver portion as soon as I finished the bronze level and received my certificate and new record book,” she said.
Thibodeau does not believe there are any other people working toward the award in the area. When asked about why she decided to start the DoE she responded, “I chose to do this award because my mom suggested I do it and I already do everything required on a regular basis. The Duke of Edinburgh award is worth two high school credits for each level completed. Also, it is recognized by post-secondary institutions, scholarship providers, and top employers who value leadership and self-development skills which the award represents.”
Thibodeau wants to encourage more young people to start the program. While she started at bronze, potential participants can enroll directly into the upper awards. To enroll into silver, youth need to be 15 or older, and for gold youth need to be 16 or older.
“I would recommend the Duke of Edinburgh award to other youth because it helps you better understand your strengths and weaknesses and improves confidence in achieving life goals,” she said.