The Founders of the Award designed a program that would challenge young people and keep them gainfully engaged in their teenage years and early adult years.
The Award was very much designed as something a person does. In itself it is not an organisation, simply put, you don’t join the Award but you do the Award.
The Award has proven to be a very powerful youth development tool in the hands of an adult keen to work with young people.
Key design features of The Award
1. Universal access via a licencing arrangement. Youth organisations, schools, sports organisations, clubs, institutions and government entities become licenced Award Units and run the Award in their organisation.The Award is used by organisations to complement the activities that they currently provide (educational, recreational or community services) and/or it designed to extend on and recognise activities being undertaken.
2. Non competitive. Young people under the guidance of their Award Leaders and Activity assessors select their activities and then set their own goal for each activity. An Award participant cannot be “failed”. Showing continuous effort and meeting the key requirements such as duration and recording their activity will see them achieve their Award.
3. Balanced program of either 4 Sections (Bronze and Silver levels) or 5 sections (Gold level). This aspect of the Award’s design was strongly influenced by one of the Award’s founders Dr Kurt Hahn. An educational leader that had first hand experience in the benefits in blending non formal education with the educational school rigours. The Award requires each participant to undertake an activity that qualifies as:
- Service: Volunteering time to assist others or your community
- Physical Recreation: Improving fitness and discovering new sports or active recreational activity
- Skills: Undertaken a new interest or hobby or extending on a current one
- Adventurous Journey: This is the only section of The Award required to be undertaken in a group. Undertaking a journey in an unfamiliar environment is about creating opportunities for team building through shared planning, role allocation, problem solving and accommodating physical and personality differences
4. Progressively more demanding levels. The 3 levels are progessively more demanding due to the longer duration required for each activity. The Award requires youth to acquire the discipline of planning their time, perseverance and communication (their colleagues and their activity assessor). The minimum age ranges recognise that the minimum time demands of the Award are more likely to be met as young people mature and gain resilience. Although most participants commence with the Bronze Award at 14, there is not obstacle in commencing the Silver Award directly if over 15 of the Gold if over 16.
5. Voluntary participation: The founders recognised that there are immediate and overall greater personal development benefits if a young person chooses to undertake an Award. In addition the substantial portion of the time required undertaking the selected activities must be done so in the participant’s own discretionary time, ie not part of a required school activity.
6. Duration is used to set the main challenge of the Award. There is not the option of completing any of the sections in a shorter duration despite how many hours above the minimum are actually achieved. As previously mentioned, time management and perseverance are key life skills acquired by Award participants.
7. Recognition of achievement. Recording one’s activity, communicating with Award Leaders and activity assessors provide a very important source of ongoing feedback (positive and corrective) that is an essential fuel for personal development. In addition, the Award deliberately sought to have a high profile through adopting its identity with the co founder, The Duke of Edinburgh. Countries subsequently taking up the Award have similarly sought a high recognisable and positive status name, eg The President’s Award. Today the Award’s brand is one of a highly respected and valued youth program. Employers, academics, youth works and community leaders all consistently sing the praises of the positive impact the Award makes with the most diverse groups of youth