GOLD WINNERS - From left

Local youth receive top honours

Young adults get the chance to have their contributions to their communities and themselves recognized with the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

Recently four teens from Red Deer were presented with the gold level of the award.

Tanner Redel, Rebecca Zhang, Heather Mast and Evan Schollie received the gold level award from the man which has an island province named after him, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

“It’s a common program for scouts and cadets to do,” said Schollie. “My scout leader encouraged me to do the bronze level first, then the next year I did silver, and this year I finished with the gold.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is offered to any and all youth and young adults from ages 14 to 25.

The award has three ranking categories being bronze, silver, and gold, all with increasing levels of dedication.

Regardless of level, the award is not something that can be claimed within a day or a week, but rather must be worked towards over months of volunteer work, self-improvement, physical activity and adventurous journey.

Participants have a choice in what they do for each section of the award requirements as they can choose what activities they do depending on what condition they’re looking to complete. For example, an individual can choose to work with challenged youth or homeless groups for the service portion and choose to hike or go horseback riding for their adventuring journey.

“It helped me learn more about myself,” said Schollie. “It challenged me to work harder and become a better person.”

Schollie said he put many hours each week towards the award doing different physical activities, volunteer work with his church and community, and even spent a month in Japan to attend the 23rd World Scout Jamboree for the Residential Project for the gold level of the award.

“I see it (the award) as the ending of my scouts journey,” said Schollie. “Just something to show for all the work I’ve done all these years.

“I’m proud I got the opportunity to meet Prince Edward and receive the award.”

According to the web site, benefits of having your child participate in the award include an improved resume, a demonstrated sense of goal setting and task achievement, along with a list of other positives.

Parents can sign their children as early as 14-years-old and legal adults can sign up before they turn 25.

“The award program helped me discover what I believed in and to find the person I wished to become,” said Romy Zeitlinger of Sutton, Quebec, a previous gold level winner, on the web site. “I go about things in the most positive way possible and always try to gain something new from every situation.

“Stepping outside my comfort zone at every occasion possible is how I try to live. If we are not pushing ourselves further than we have before then we are not living life to the fullest. I’ve discovered lots of things about myself through this program.”

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