DofE Awards build on community partnerships
The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Bermuda helps to build stronger communities and contributes to a reduction in crime and antisocial behaviours. The award's efforts to further develop and expand the programme island-wide are enhanced by strong community partnerships. Building upon these relationships allows us to reach and serve a more diverse cross-section of Bermuda's population of young people between the ages of 14 and 25.
Participation in the award engages with nearly all non-profit and youth-serving organisations across the island through activities involving community service, developing personal skills, and physical recreation. “Dukers” choose activities that are meaningful to them and because their interests vary greatly, their choice of community partners and service providers is diverse.
Activities include almost everything imaginable from volunteering to working with animals, involvement with the elderly and care for the environment; to building robotics, learning vocational trades, book clubs and music lessons; to participation in a variety of individual and team sports. It is imperative that participants become involved in activities that are of their own choosing as this promotes consistency and sustainability for the successful completion of their award programme.
One example of community partnerships is the Award's regular involvement with the annual XL Catlin End To End fundraising event. Our participants can often be seen hiking the End To End with fully loaded rucksacks as part of their practice journeys, which includes “Dukers” raising money for other non-profit organisations that benefit from the annual End-to-End grants.
Visit www.bermudaendtoend.bm for additional details on one of the island's most significant fundraising events.
“Dukers” and our adult leaders have also volunteered in a number of different capacities for this event and this year, in celebration of the award's 50th anniversary and End To End's 30th anniversary, the award has been shortlisted for the unique People's Choice Award whereby everyone registered for the End To End has an opportunity to vote for the charity of their choice to receive a bonus award of $30,000.
The honour of securing the End To End People's Choice grant would significantly impact the award's ability to maintain the programme free of charge in Bermuda, which averages nearly seven hundred local participants on an annual basis.
It would also improve our ability to develop the award through alternative sectors of the community, such as launching the award's “young offenders” programme within the Department of Corrections and expansion throughout the middle and senior schools system. The award is also pursuing additional community outreach partnerships that will provide more life-changing opportunities to Bermuda's youth, especially those who may be underserved or at a socio-economic disadvantage.
Keep Bermuda Beautiful (KBB) is another longtime local partner with the award and we have recently included Plastic Tides in our efforts to educate, advocate and act responsibly to care for our natural environments.
The Bermuda Police Cadets, while carrying out their Gold adventurous journey last summer, worked with both of these organisations on a marine conservation project in which they explored our coastlines from the eastern-most tip of St George's to Spanish Point.
The cadets travelled in canoes over a four-day journey; carried all of their necessary camping and survival supplies with them; and not only studied the coastline, but cleaned it up along the way.
The cadets were trained on how to identify “old” trash that had travelled from across the oceans compared to “local” trash that would have made its way into the water by way of our own residents of Bermuda. The amount of single-use plastics collected, especially soda and water bottles, was astounding.
The group also gathered a significant amount of large debris, such as wooden shipping pallets, large sections of PVC pipe and discarded bicycles.
Their clean-up efforts were documented and the data was shared with KBB who then relayed the information to an international conservation group that tracks global ocean pollution. The award is volunteering with Plastic Tides for this weekend's second annual Devil's Island Challenge, a round-the-island stand-up paddle board race on Saturday, May 6, aimed to raise awareness for marine conservation and raise funds for Plastic Tides' local children's programmes with the goal of reaching and teaching every student in Bermuda within the next five years.
Plastic Tides will also be hosting a community fun day at Snorkel Park on Sunday, May 7, which includes a variety of land and water-based events and fun activities for children and adults. Additional information can be found at www.plastictides.org
•Traci Burgess is the national director of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Bermuda. To get involved with the Award, contact the award office for additional details on programmes, volunteering and alumni events by calling 537-4868 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org