The Award: Equipping young people with skills for life
The Award is an exciting self-development programme for 14-25 year olds worldwide, which equips them with life skills to make a difference to themselves and their communities.
Introduced first in the UK, the Award is now available in over 125 countries. More than 750,000 young people are now taking part in the programme, including college and university students from 630 institutions.
Offering individuals the chance to develop their skills, the Award is popular with students looking to improve their chances in the job market, and with good reason. In a recent survey employers ranked the Award as the most valuable extra-curricular activity when it came to skills for employment.
The Award: Benefits to students
Balancing your studies and, for many, a part-time job or voluntary work, can be hard enough without joining a club or society. But taking part in the Award programme allows you to build in your existing activities, and get recognised for them.
Split into four sections, Skills, Physical Recreation, Service and Adventurous Journey, the Award is tailored to each individual. For each section, you get to choose what you want to do, which means you can tie in your activities with your study.
You may be involved in voluntary work, for example. This work comes under the Service section of the Award. Or perhaps you’ve taken up a sport. Any physical activities that you are already involved in can be put towards your Award.
The Award is a life changing experience that enables you to:
· Learn new skills to add to your CV; team work, communication and problem solving, skills which employers find valuable
· Complete the Award alongside your studies and other commitments – fit it in around your time
· Make a difference to your community through volunteering and impress employers with your commitment to helping others
· Build your confidence - try something new
· Make lasting friendships
“The Award ensures you ALWAYS have something to talk about in interviews,” says Alex Murphy, University of Melbourne Gold Award Participant and Board Member of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Victoria.
“It guarantees life experience, teamwork and commitment - all things employers look for.”
“The Award recognises young people for the list of extra-curricular and voluntary activities to which they give their time. It’s often tough to balance school or college with activities, but Gaisce (the Award in Ireland) makes it easier. I think it’s because at the end of it you have a something that rewards you for all the work you put in!” says University of Limerick student Aoife Finnerty.
The Award and Institutions
The Award is also beneficial to institutions themselves, not least as a way to ensure students have a positive learning experience. The Award can:
· Add value to learning by integrating a programme that offers practical experience and builds confidence
· Help an institution build relationships with local businesses and the wider community
· Make you an institution of choice for students looking for more than just a qualification
· Build a team of student volunteers who go on to become Award leaders themselves who promote the Award and the institution
In Irish universities, the Award (Gaisce) is making a big difference to students and to institutions themselves.
“Gaisce – The President’s Award - is the most prestigious Award for young people in Ireland and is well respected internationally, says Student Development Co-ordinator Aidan Healy.
“We looked at how we could encourage learning outside the classroom and how we could engage with the community around us,” he explains.
“I had done the Award myself and thought it would be a great way to get students interested in activities outside the classroom. The fact that the Award is already set up nationwide was also a benefit to us, as with limited resources starting from scratch could have taken us a long time. It made sense for us to link up with a programme that is already well established and geared up to supporting those who wish to run it. Anyone at the university can oversee the process, from academics to support staff."
Students completing the Award at the University are also attracting publicity.
“The Award is generating positive publicity for the University and its students. There are times when the media can only focus on negative stories about student behaviour. Having positive coverage about students who are involved in good causes helps to change people’s attitudes and, therefore, build better relations in the community.”
In India, the Award is being used to engage students more with society, and to help build their skills for life. An Open Award Centre has been set up specifically for university students to focus on skills development and vocational training. The Centre offers students a programme for mass media, communication, visual arts and other skills. This Centre will bring together 10,000 students from independent colleges in New Delhi to complete the Award, individuals who would have previously been disengaged with society.
The International Award: A positive learning experience
At Egerton University, located in Njoro 200 km from Nairobi, the Award is helping young people make a difference in their communities. Award participants are teaching in primary and secondary schools, providing information on HIV/AIDS and taking part in outreach work to support parents. They are also fundraising to help send three children from primary schools they’ve visited on to secondary education.
“Participating in the Award Programme has been a powerful experience. Since joining the Programme, campus life has been fun and organized. It has instilled discipline and motivation to studies and other activities. There is the joy of participating in an activity and achieving what you set,” explains John Paul Kibet, Award holder and Unit Leader at Egerton University.
“Though some things are not fun, the spirit of perseverance developed after attending expeditions and physical recreation comes in handy. More still, becoming an Award Leader and seeing participants through the programme feels comforting. It gives one the opportunity to pass on the knowledge to someone else. I cannot tell how I would be if I did not join the Award, but I bet it would not have been as good as now”.
In Australia, institutions can see the value the Award brings to their students, their institution and to their community.
“The activities that Deakin students undertake to obtain their Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award, will enhance, enrich and supplement the graduate attributes that students gain during their course of study,” explain Andrew Giles, Executive Officer to the Vice-Chancellor, Deakin University and David Essex, Director of Student Life, Deakin University.
“Deakin University is keen to ensure that all Deakin students maximise their opportunities to participate in programs of activities that will enrich their educational experience and enhance their graduate attributes – the Gold Award is such a programme.”
To find out more about the Award and how you can take part as a student or an institution, contact:
International Award for Young People, India
Call +91 11 64662720
Information courtesy : Communications Team, International Award office London
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