Portage in Ontario is delighted to partner with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for the first time. In Portage’s substance abuse rehabilitation centres for adolescents, youth work on their strengths, their self-discovery, they integrate physical activity into their routine, learn to give back to the community and definitely discover who they are. Bottom line, it transforms their lives. This is exactly what the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is all about.

This Award challenges youth ages 14 – 24 to set and achieve goals in four activity areas: skill development, volunteering, physical activity and adventurous journeys in nature. This non-competitive Award program shows you who you are and transforms you. Youth qualify for the Award by consistently completing activities of their choice in their communities. All activities must be extra-curricular and voluntary.

Who You Are – Before and After

When youth in Elora started talking about what they could do for this Award, they were most excited about giving back to the community. They encouraged each other by pointing out one another’s strengths and offer support where needed. Ideas range from public speaking with youth re: addiction and criminality, working with the local church at the food bank, volunteering at a school art camp and at grade school in the school year, and volunteering at a women’s shelter to name but a few. Here is one example of how it went: someone gave the idea of making an environmental clean-up in their area, cleaning the waterways, etc. More artistic youth suggested taking pictures before and after the clean-up. It then quickly arose to them that this reflected their current recovery path at Portage: before, messy and covered with waste vs after, clean and well-ordered. They related this activity to themselves. That’s the essence of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award!

This prestigious recognition is called the “Golden Ticket”. Established in 140 countries, there is a strong advantage when a resume includes such an Award for applications to Colleges, Universities and even jobs. Youth at Portage will positively benefit from this standing.

About the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

There are three levels of the Award: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Each are of increasing intensity and duration. At the Silver and Gold levels youth, leaders, and family members are invited to an Award ceremony where youth are presented with a certificate by notable community members such as the Lt. Governor of Ontario, the Governor General of Canada, or a member of The Royal Family.

The youth have expressed feeling excited to have this challenge and stated they know the skills learned at Portage has prepared them to face it. Portage’s staff in Elora, Ontario is happily putting in the extra effort to help them obtain this high-status recognition, so in line with Portage’s philosophy and principles.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award

For more information on this international Award: www.dukeofed.org

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