For many young people, the Duke of Edinburgh Award opens up those big wooden gates to the outdoors… and teaches them to close them again! This year a group of 13 young people with special educational needs at Westhaven School completed the award. Having had the opportunity to support their D of E programme back in 2016, we were keen to find out how they got on.
Westhaven School began running bronze D of E in September 2015, and has now seen two yeargroups achieve the award. Project leader John explains the benefits of the DofE for young people:
"[The Duke of Edinburgh Award] gives pupils an opportunity to gain a recognised award that they may not have the opportunity to achieve later in life, broadening their learning opportunities."
Unidentified Glowing Shelters (a slight variation on the better known 'UFO') | Photo: Westhaven School
Of the 13 students taking part, half had never had a camp fire before, 4 had never camped, and 8 had never been on a long walk. Activities that many of us take for granted, but which served as valuable learning experiences for the participants, as John explains:
"Throughout the walk, the young people's confidence grew and their ability to work as a team improved"
Home for the night: the student took pride in their tents and enjoyed having their own space | Photo: Westhaven school
Westhaven used their funding from the AK Foundation to buy new tents for the award. This equipment will go on to serve future D of E participants in the school. This year's group particularly treasured the feeling of ownership over their equipment, looking after their own space and equipment so that it stayed in tip top condition for the next generation of DofE-ers. All the students on the trip have now completed their Bronze award and Westhaven School hopes to expand their award offering to Duke of Edinburgh Silver in the future; we look forward to hearing about their next adventures!
The Alpkit Foundation supports projects that enable people to overcome the obstacles preventing them from Going Nice Places and Doing Good Things.