More than 200 young Australians have been recognised by the Governor of New South Wales at the 2021 Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Gold Ceremony.
Office of Sport Chief Executive Karen Jones said the Gold Award recipients displayed incredible resilience and commitment to complete the program during what has been a challenging period for many communities.
“Completing the Gold Award at any time is a remarkable achievement, but to complete it during a period of bushfires, drought, flooding and a global pandemic shows incredible dedication and resilience,” Ms Jones said.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award comprises four sections – Voluntary Service, Skills, Physical Recreation and an Adventurous Journey.
To achieve the Gold Award, participants must complete a Gold Residential Project. This involves undertaking a challenging experience, often in an unfamiliar environment, such as conservation projects, community service and outdoor adventure programs.
Nineteen-year-old student Leilani Healey from the Central Coast hiked the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, completing the 96-kilometre trek in nine days.
“The trek was very hard but it has given me the confidence I can achieve anything I put my mind to,” Leilani said.
“It’s also given me an appreciation of what soldiers went through during the Second World War.”
Leilani’s mother is a quadriplegic with multiple sclerosis, and Leilani and her siblings cared for her while she was growing up.
“Completing the trek gave me the opportunity to speak to other teenagers that live in challenging situations as well,” she said.
Leilani added that she loved her Duke of Ed experience.
“The program has helped me step out of my comfort zone and enabled me to learn new skills that I wouldn’t otherwise have learnt.”
The Office of Sport is the NSW licence holder for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. In 2020, despite the challenge of COVID, nearly 12,000 young people registered in the program.