Duke’s diamond challenge for 60th celebration year

Youngsters from The Sub get to grips with climbing
Youngsters from The Sub get to grips with climbing

Youth achievement isn’t always about exam results and trophies.

Some young people struggle to find their forte, while others seek out new ways to achieve.

Engaging teenagers and young adults is not easy but one scheme, now in its 60th year, is so popular it has 2000 14 to 24-year-olds on its waiting list.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE), a programme of personal development, gives youngsters the chance to be the best they can be.

It aims to broaden horizons, solidify friendships, offer challenging projects and prepare youngsters for life and work.

Some have used it to get off the streets, for others it boosts their CVs to gain entry to top universities or secure a job.

Last year, 20,000 Scots started a DofE award, with 13 per cent being from a disadvantaged background.

Between 2014-15, over 9300 achieved a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award after completing challenges at licensed centres across the country.

In the Falkirk Council area, the DofE runs in 20 centres, including schools, Forth Valley College, Polmont YOI and the Sub Youth Club in Bainsford.

The Sub’s DofE adventure began in 2012 when seven young people decided to take on the DofE and convinced youth workers to offer it.

Today, some of the original seven are working towards their Gold Award, with eight working towards Silver and nine on Bronze.Dianne Campbell said: “Our DofE is very much young-people led. We have a great volunteering section – for example they help to run a youth club for P1 to P5.

“Without them, I don’t think it would still be going.

“They give a lot back to the community, including organising a mural for the local bridge and helping Falkirk for Mums.

“The DofE gives them a chance to do things they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to do, whether that’s climbing, canoeing or working on sports qualifications.

“The confidence it gives them is great and they are proud of themselves and their area.”

Now, the Sub is self-sufficent in that it can offer the Bronze and often the Silver Award without going to outside agencies, and will also be running its own practise expedition in Muiravonside.

One of the many things the DofE Award claims to do is leave a “footprint on lives”; one man who agrees is Peter Wright from Linlithgow.

For 20 years, Peter managed the delivery of the awards in Edinburgh and the Lothians, receiving an MBE for his efforts.

He said: “The sense of pride young people get is wonderful, for themselves and their families.

“The anecdotal evidence from the young people speaks for itself; they will say, ‘I’m really pleased I did that,’ or ‘I’ve surprised myself’.”

And, after recruiting hundreds of volunteers to offer the awards, Peter knows the value of supporting a charity like the DofE Awards.

He added: “The commitment and enthusiasm of volunteers has remained the same throughout the DofE’s history.

“I hope the DofE continues to grow and develop, and access to the Awards continues to widen.”

To celebrate the DofE’s 60th year, everyone is being offered the chance to support disadvantaged young Scots.

The Diamond Challenge wants people to learn a skill, embark on an adventure or conquer a personal challenge, and raise a minimum of £60.

For details, visit www.DofEDiamondChallenge.org.