For this year's International Women's Day, we wanted to share a powerful story/ interview that shows it doesn't matter if you think you're too young, you can still make a difference. Evelyn has definitely made a difference in her community and was recognised for this by her local council on Australia day as she was named Young Citizen of the Year in Moreton Bay. Evelyn has only just finished her Bronze Award, we can't wait to see what she does when she gets to Gold!
Read her full story below
Q: Had you ever heard of the Duke of Ed before? If so, how?
No I had not heard of the Award until June 2019.
Q: Why did you decide to do The Duke of Ed?
I became an Airforce Cadet in January 2019 and they sent me an email saying that I could sign up to do the Duke of Ed Bronze Award through Cadets. My mum and Dad knew about the Award and showed me all the information. I realised I was already doing a lot of activities and charity work that already qualified for the Award. My mum and dad told me that the Award was a really great opportunity to learn new skills and would look great on my resume for job opportunities. Plus I really love going on camps so looked forward to the AJ’s. I spoke to my best friend who was also in cadets and we both decided to sign up.
Q: What did you do for your Award?
I had been volunteering for Rize Up Australia since I was 12 years old. Rize Up is a charity the supports victims of domestic violence. I also wanted to volunteer at The Redcliffe Breakfast Club which supports the homeless in our local area. So because I couldn’t decide I put both down in my ORB. I also knew I only needed to commit to 1 hour a week for 26 weeks as I selected it as my major, but I always ended up doing more because I wanted to help. I then started to help and volunteer at other community programs which I did not log for Duke of Ed. Because of helping at these charities, I was awarded the Service Award at my school at the end of year award ceremony. I was also nominated and won the Young Citizen of the Year 2020 in the Moreton Bay Regional Council Australia Day Awards.
For my Skills section, I joined the Culinary Club as an after-school activity. It is run by a Chef who teaches all aspects of catering and hospitality and the Culinary Club gets booked to serve at events like the Chairman’s Dinner, Volunteers morning tea day and monthly board meetings. I was part of a team that prepared and served a 5-course degustation dinner to 50 guests at a pop-up restaurant. It meant after school I then worked from 3.30pm to 10pm which was amazing but really tiring like a real-world job.
Because I was in Airforce Cadets, I was able to use all my drill and marching as my physical activity. Some people might think its not like a sport is physical. However, when we practice for a presentation or event, we can be marching for at least a couple of hours to get it perfect. Also, when being part of a flag party at ANZAC Day Parades you are required to strand to attend or at ease without moving for over an hour and that takes a huge amount of concentration and skill.
For my Adventurous Journeys, my mum found a local Environmental Centre who did journeys for the 3 levels of Awards. My first AJ at the Stanley River Environmental Education Centre was a 23 km bush hike across Mt Mee followed by a 10 km canoe paddle the next day after camping overnight. We had to carry a hiking pack with all of our kit equipment, food and water; mine weighed 11.3kg. Although I was pretty fit and I had been training it was so tough. I learned I had to use a lot of mental strength and talk to myself that I could do it. When we got to the campground it was after 8pm and dark so we couldn’t see apart from where our headlamps shone. One of the instructors walked off to open the gate and when he came back he showed us a 2 meter carpet python that was on the side of the path next to us watching us as if it was saying hello. It was freaky and cool, all at the same time. After the first journey, it gave me so much more confidence and I also got to share it with my best friend.
Q: Could you share a favourite part of your time doing the Award?
Completing the Award at the same time as my best friend Katie has been my favourite part. Checking in each week to see each other’s log in ORB and seeing the tasks get ticked off. It is something we will share forever.
Q: Were there any challenges you encountered along the way and how did you overcome them?
The hardest part of the Award for me was my first AJ. I had never done anything as physical before for that length of time. Even though I did lots of practice it was a big shock. Carrying all of that kit in my backpack from 11am to 8pm while bush hiking was really hard. Then when we got to camp we couldn’t rest because we have to build out tents and cook our dinner. I kept doubting myself that I could finish it but the team helped me through the tough parts. And then I found that when anyone else was struggling I could help them through it so it was a real team effort.
Q: Have you noticed any change in yourself since you started the Award?
Doing the Award has definitely given me more inner confidence. I feel like I have more independence and I find solving problems easier.
Q: Do you think doing the Award has helped make you ready for University, travel, work?
I think that taking part in The Duke of Ed has given me different ways of looking at challenges. I start the Silver Award next month and plan to do Gold as well. It is going to be a great addition to my resume and has given me skills to help me enter into the workforce and use for Uni when I finish Grade 12.
Q: Has achieving the Award helped you develop or find what you are passionate about?
I’ve realised that there are so many things I can do and that if I enjoy it then its not boring. I’ve learnt that I don’t have to wait until I’m older that I can make a change now and help people
Q: What would you say to someone wasn’t sure if the Award was right for them?
Just do it as it’s a memorable experience for yourself.
Q: What are planning on doing now that you have finished your Award?
Now that I have finished my Bronze Award I am signing straight up for the Silver Award.