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As a Young Award Leader at the Victorian Open Award, Eliza is passionate about the benefits of the Award and about getting the Award in her school so that everyone has access to it. She was a little dismayed at first about having to do the Award at home but after modifying her activities and picking up some new ones she has found it to be a great way to stay active and stave off the isolation blues.


Why did you decide to do the Award? 

I decided to do the Award because I wanted to do more with my time, and thought it would be an excellent opportunity for me to improve my skills across areas such as leadership, communication and confidence. As well as this, my Mum did it when she was around the same age as me, and her positive recount of her experience gave me courage to do it. 


What activities are you doing for your Award? 

For my Award, I am extending my knowledge of Japanese, as apart of my Skills section, because I want to improve my vocabulary and become more confident in speaking the language that l learn in school. For my Physical Recreation, I am doing netball, in particular, improving both my fitness and shooting accuracy at home. I have been following a training plan that was provided by my netball club, in order to stay fit and healthy over these challenging times. For my Voluntary Service, I am becoming a Young Award Leader, through the Victoria Open Award Centre. Although this program is usually for those who do the Duke of Ed through their school to promote the Award at school, I am going to use the leadership skills that I will learn in the coming weeks to create content to share around my school online to promote the Award, with the help of my Award Leader, and organise online meetings with teachers and/or students to speak about potentially starting the Award. 


What sort of challenges are you facing in your day-to-day life, as a result of COVID-19? How has this impacted you? 

As the whole of Victoria is in stage three lockdown, I am faced with restricting yet quite insignificant challenges when comparing them with the struggles that many are facing around the world. I am so grateful for my health and safety, and the minor challenges that I face in my day-to-day life, like not being able to see friends, play netball, physically attend school, or go out as much as usual, are very small problems, in the large scheme. These very necessary restrictions have had an impact on the way I now view my everyday life. They have helped me to realise how much I used to take for granted the small things in life, and have helped to strengthen my gratitude for my family, safety, health, food and community. 


Is the Award helping you deal with any of these challenges? If so how? 

Working through the Award has helped to motivate me, and has provided me with activities to take my mind off the ever-looming statistics and news that can be very worrying. By setting goals across my three activities, I have been able to create a healthy balance between work and play, and doing activities that I am passionate about, distracts me from things that I cannot control. 


Have you had to adapt your Award activities as a result of COVID - 19? if so, how? 

I have had to adapt two of my Award activities as a result of COVID-19, as well as postpone both my practice and qualifying Adventurous Journeys. For my Physical Recreation, I started off the netball season striving to improve my shooting skills, however, as all team sports have been postponed, I have had to move towards a home-based netball program. With the use of my netball hoop at home, I have been able to still practice my shooting, as well as improve my fitness through the use of a training plan provided by my netball club. For my service, I used to volunteer at my local Op Shop on a Saturday, working with donated goods, and at the counter serving customers. However, the Op Shop had to close and therefore I had to change my activity. I contacted my Award Leader, for ideas on what to do, and the idea of becoming a Young Award Leader stood out to me, as before I even started the Award, I wanted to get my school involved with The Duke of Ed. Whilst COVID-19 has proved to be a very new circumstance to myself, and many other people completing their Award, it has helped me to realise how many different activities there are out there, and how much you can do within the limits of your home. 


Are you using your Award (and particularly your Voluntary Service section) to help your community deal with the challenges of of COVID-19? If so, how? 

Although I am not directly using my Award to help my community deal with the challenges of COVID-19, I hope to begin my work as a Young Award Leader, and encourage others from my school to sign up for The Duke of Ed during this time, as it is such a great way to get you motivated and passionate, especially when self-isolation can seem boring. 


What would you say to someone who thinks doing the Award is too hard right now and wants to wait until its easier after the virus? 

There are so many ways to complete the Award under these circumstances, in fact now is a great time to get started, since many people will find themselves becoming unmotivated and bored. If you are thinking about doing the Award, I highly recommend doing so now, as you will find it will provide time for you to do things that you enjoy, to take your mind of the worrying situation. Whilst we are all limited as to where we can go, and certain aspects such as the Adventurous Journey may pose a challenge to complete, you will find that there is so much you can do from home, and so much that you can do to adapt to the situation with the help of your Award Leader. This is a great opportunity to learn new things that you wouldn't have thought of if not forced into these circumstances. It may seem like a big challenge, especially now, but waiting until this passes will only lessen your motivation, and everyone who is currently completing their Duke of Ed Award across the world are faced with the same challenges, so you are not alone. 


Is there anything else you would like to share about your time doing the Award? 

I have really enjoyed my journey throughout the Award so far, and would highly encourage anyone who is passionate, or wants to make a difference, to get started.