The Award is about individual challenge, variety of activity, duration, support and team work and recognition. As every individual is different, so too are the challenges that young people undertake to achieve their Award. With guidance from their Award Leader, activity Assessor or other Award volunteers, each young person is encouraged to look at themselves, their interests, abilities, and ambitions, then set themselves challenges in the four different Sections of the Award (Voluntary Service, Skill, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey).
These challenges should require persistence and determination to overcome. Along the way Participants may want to give up but at the end will have the satisfaction of knowing they overcame the challenges and succeeded, learning about themselves, their hidden depths of character, and developing as human beings in the process. It is important that these challenges are at the right level for the individual – too easy and there will be no sense of real achievement, too difficult and the young person may give up in despair.
Young people do not need to excel to achieve the Award, they simply need to set personally challenging goals for improvement and demonstrate effort as they strive to reach these goals. A demonstration of commitment through typically weekly effort is the key, along with regular interaction with the activity assessor who has subject matter expertise and mentors the Award participant. Finally, to help young people overcome their fears and challenges, the Award provides them with opportunities to learn from experience. Dr Kurt Hahn, among others, helped to develop the philosophy of ‘experiential learning’, a process of making meaning from direct experiences.
The Learning Cycle
“The aim of education is to impel people into value forming experiences… to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit… and above all, compassion… it is culpable neglect not to impel young people into experiences.”
Dr Kurt Hahn
The Four Operating Principles
These operating principles (Reference: International Declaration – Article 3) form the mandatory features of the Award. Together with the 10 guiding principles listed below, they form the essential components of the Award.
Participants need to be aged 14 to 24 to be doing the Award.
The structure of the Award program consists of four mandatory sections: Voluntary Service, Adventurous Journey, Skill and Physical Recreation. At Gold level Participants also undertake a Gold Residential Project away from home.
There are three levels of Award: Bronze (for those aged 14 or over), Silver (for those aged 15 or over) and Gold (for those aged 16 or over)
The minimum period of participation for direct entrants to qualify for an Award is six months for Bronze, 12 months for Silver and 18 months for a Gold Award.
The Ten Guiding Principles
One program for all, regardless of location or circumstance.
Individuals design their own program, which is tailored to suit their personal circumstances, choices and local provision. They start at whichever level of the Award that suits them best and they can take as long as they wish (within the age limit) to achieve their Award. This process is typically undertaken with their Award Leader.
Doing their Award is a personal challenge and not a competition against others. Every Participant’s program is tailor-made to reflect their individual starting point, abilities and interests.
An Award is achievable by any individual who chooses to take up the challenge, regardless of ability, gender, background, or location, with the right guidance and inspiration.
Whilst the Award may be offered within school, university, work time, custody or extra-curricular activity, individuals chose to do a program and must commit a substantial amount of their free time to undertake their activities.
Participating in their Award program fosters personal and social development. Individuals gain valuable experiences and life skills, grow in confidence and become more aware of their environment and community, transforming them into responsible young adults. They have the chance to discover their potential through the encouragement and the individual programming provided by volunteers.
The Award provides a balanced framework to develop the individual’s mind, body and community spirit by engaging them in a range of up to five different challenges.
The Award is about setting goals and working towards these. Activity time undertaken prior to being accepted as a Participant by the Award Leader cannot be included in the minimum participation time requirements. At each level of engagement, the Award demands progressively more time, commitment and responsibility from the Participant.
The Award inspires individuals to exceed their expectations. They are encouraged to set their own challenges and goals before starting an activity, aim for these goals and by showing improvement, achieve an Award.
The Award requires persistence and cannot be completed with a short burst of enthusiasm. Participants are encouraged to continue with activities and to maintain their interest beyond their program requirements.
Participants and Award Leaders should find the Award enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding.
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