Hundreds pick up DofE awards

Young people in Wandsworth are demonstrating more ‘get-up-and-go’ than their counterparts across London, with greater numbers taking part in Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award schemes than in any other borough.

Wandsworth currently has 2,074 enrolled on schemes - more than double the figure five years ago. And between March 2012 and February 2013 the borough's young people notched up a whopping 450 awards.

Many of these successful DofE participants - aged between 14 and 24 - picked up their well-earned bronze, silver and gold awards at Ashcroft Technology Academy, in West Hill, earlier this month.

The presentation ceremony saw students from Graveney, Emanuel, Ashcroft, Ernest Bevin, Garrett Park, Saint Cecilia's and Ibstock Place schools gather alongside young people from the Training and Resource Centre in Alma Road and the Tooting Hub youth centre.

Wandsworth's children's services spokeswoman, Councillor Kathy Tracey, said:

"Every single young person who's earned an award over the past 12 months should be proud.
"I hope that - in addition to gaining a well-respected accolade - those who took part in the scheme seized the opportunity to learn and develop valuable life skills.

"DofE programmes are renowned for inspiring positivity, building confidence and self-esteem and teaching communication and teamwork - enabling young people from any background to grow personally and professionally.

"The council has been striving to help more young people take part in the programme - and I hope the borough sees many hundreds more getting involved in the months and years to come."

Peter Fleet, Director for DofE London Region, said:

"I would like to congratulate teachers, leaders and volunteers across the borough for this outstanding performance.

"It was great that there was such a push to widen the availability of the programme to new and diverse audiences."

Youth workers and teachers based in borough schools have received training from the youth service so that they can now offer students the chance to undertake a basic expedition award under their leadership.

Some of the young people who have been achieving awards under the supervision of youth workers had previously been considered difficult to engage with - but the scheme is designed to change that by giving them a positive outlet through which to express themselves while they learn new skills.

In recent months, Wandsworth DofE leaders and teachers in Tooting Hub Youth Centre and Ernest Bevin College have been working with minority groups, who have traditionally been less well represented in the DofE scheme, to complete awards.

Participants get to go all over the UK on expeditions with their schools, and/or youth groups, to places like Dorset, North Wales, Peak District and the Brecon Beacons.

Some go overseas for gold expeditions and groups from Wandsworth have recently been to countries such as Morocco, Spain and Bavaria. Most expeditions are walking based but a handful of young people from Wandsworth are undertaking a silver open canoeing venture in 2013, which is open to disabled participants.

To learn more about the council's youth service, including how to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/youth, or call into the Training and Resource Centre - the borough's Open Award Centre in Alma Road, which offers bronze, silver and gold level expeditions.

Alternatively, if your school does not currently offer the award scheme, call the DofE Open Award Centre for Wandsworth on 020 8875 9905 or e-mail mchapman@wandsworth.gov.uk to find out how to take part.

DofE has been running for more than 60 years, and is the most popular and well recognised youth accreditation in the UK. For more information about the award scheme visit www.dofe.org.

Source: Wandsworth Council