‘We have much to offer the rest of the world’ Islandto play key role in youth programme
Kenneth Bartram was 23-years-old when he first embarked on the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award expedition in Barbados years ago.
He enjoyed the experience so much he turned right around and asked to be a leader — and has been assisting young people as a volunteer for the adventure and self-development programme ever since.
These days he serves as chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Bermuda and recently reached a milestone, when the Island was selected as one of three nations to represent the entire Americas region, which includes the US, Canada, South America and the Caribbean. The other two chosen were the Bahamas and Barbados.
For the next three years, the Island will sit as a member of the International Council (IC) for the award scheme and play a part in making decisions on behalf of the award association.
Mr Bartram admitted he was “very excited” about the new role and said he was “delighted and proud that Bermuda has been elected to represent our region on the International Council and to act on behalf and speak on behalf of the other countries”.
“This is as a direct result of such a vibrant and relative award programme which goes to show that no matter how tiny in stature Bermuda is we have much to offer the rest of the world.
“It also shows just how respected Bermuda is as a member of the international community especially when it comes to developing our youth and the level of confidence other members have in Bermuda.”
He said the new responsibility was not just in recognition of his work, but all the efforts of current and past trustees, council members, leaders, participants and supporters of the award programme on the Island.
In addition to representing the Americas region, Bermuda was also selected to Chair the Caribbean Award Sub-Regional Council.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a self-development programme available to young people worldwide, equipping them with life skills to make a difference to themselves, their communities and the world.
More than eight million young people from over 140 countries have been motivated to take part in community service and physical recreation, as well as learn new skills.
Established here more than 45 years ago, the Duke of Edinburgh Award currently has 1,100 young people, between the ages of 14 to 25, enrolled. That represents approximately 13 percent of the age population, Mr Bartram said.
He said the programme “personifies what employers are looking for in young people” and helps them gain confidence, learn to work on their own initiative and get rid of many of the fears they have.
Mr Bartram admitted it was great to see the look on the young people’s faces when they achieved the various reward levels — Bronze, Silver and Gold — and felt that sense of accomplishment.
“If you have had a young people go from Bronze to Gold, I can see how they have changed. They start as someone more playful, but now they are they are thinking about their future and where they are going, they have a plan now.”
He said one of the biggest indicators that the local programme was successful is the fact that young people “are actually enjoying themselves and feel like it’s a quality programme”.
“That’s one thing they told us is they wanted a quality programme, instead of something that was slacking,” Mr Bartram said.
“Some years ago the programme went through a phase. We went through a survey and the young people said it was going soft and they wanted more quality and we have found that by increasing the quality the numbers since 2007 have rose.
“We were at 300 young people and at the end of November 2012 we were at 1,100.”
The chairman said it was a particularly exciting time for the Island to be a part of the International Council, considering the Duke of Edinburgh Award is undergoing some changes in a bid to stay relevant and fresh.
One way they plan to do this is by taking their record book online, so young people can use their phones or other technology to record their progress in the award scheme, instead of on paper.
Mr Bartram was recently awarded a certificate for the outstanding work Bermuda has done with the programme, from the Earl of Wessex Prince Edward in Malta last November.
Though it came as a surprise, he said it was amazing to be recognised for their work in moving the award forward, particularly in testing out new technology with local youth.
Useful website: www.theaward.bm