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Napier Boys’ High School Duke Of Ed Participants Find New Ways Of Helping Community

Napier Boys High School students Chris Bonthron (left), Sam Peacock, Joe Robertshawe, Daniel Clarkson along with OTNZ leader John Matthews during a Duke of Ed journey. Photo/Supplied.

Despite disruptions to the Duke of Edinburgh Award caused by Covid-19, participants at Napier Boys’ High School (NBHS) have adapted and are showing strength and resilience during this time.

For many, it has meant finding alternative ways of helping the community for the Voluntary Service section of their award.

Some boys have been delivering baking and meals to the elderly and more vulnerable members of the community, while others have found ways to complete tasks and maintain social distancing including picking up rubbish.

NBHS DoE Accredited Award Leader Claire Connor said this time has made students think “outside of the box”, communicate with others and reach out into a space that is “new and could be uncomfortable” for some students.

For each award, students are required to do a physical activity, take up a new skill and do voluntary service in the community. They must also complete one training and two outdoor journeys per level, with an additional residential journey at the Gold level.

2020 has seen the biggest cohort of boys at the school participating in the Duke of Ed Awards since Connor began volunteering as an Award Leader two-and-a-half years ago.

Her sons have gone through the programme and she can’t recommend it enough.

“The idea of the award is that they’re building confidence and developing skills for their personal development which long term is going to equip them better for life.”

Year 12 student Chris Bonthron is currently completing his Gold award. During this time he has combined his new skill of learning to drive, with delivering baking to elderly Rotarians in the community as part of his voluntary service.

The 16-year-old says he decided to participate three years ago after seeing his older brother complete the award.

“I just thought it would be a good thing to get myself out in the community, meet people and help people.”

He hopes to complete it by the end of the year. However, that depends on the current pandemic and when certain restrictions are lifted. He still has two more journeys and a Gold residential project to complete.

National Director Karen Ross said: “being in isolation isn’t stopping our determined young people from carrying on with their Duke of Ed Award activities and maintaining their well-being”.

“The key aim of the Award is to help young people build resilience, problem-solving skills and self-confidence. I can’t think of anything we need more than these crucial life skills during this testing time”.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award is the New Zealand branch of the world’s leading youth development award with over 1.3 million young people taking part worldwide.

More than 16,000 young New Zealanders are currently participating in the Award programme.

Ross says they have witnessed a “very high level of engagement” and have been amazed at the initiative many are showing during the COVID-19 crisis to continue their Award in new and creative ways while at home.

“The Award’s role in contributing to community recovery and confidence cannot be under-estimated. This, along with the experience young people continue to gather to navigate life and their contribution to our world will be needed now, more than ever,” Ross said.

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