Currently working through her Silver Award, Ellie is passionate about music and the environmental committee she started at her school to help with environmental projects around her community.
How did you find out about the Award?
I found out about the Award through School.
Why did you decide to do the Award?
I decided to complete my Duke of Edinburgh's Award because I wanted to become a more well - rounded person. The Award has helped me to start an Environmental Committee at my school; an aspiration of mine for a long time. This committee helps with environmental projects in the Douglas Shire as well as my school. It provides a great way to give back to school and local community as well as get my volunteer hours. I also mentor younger students at my school, helping them with their Bronze Award. I love working with the students in younger grades and helping them to have a role model to look up to only makes me want to work so much harder.
What activities are you doing for your Award?
For my Skills section, I am doing Musical Instruments (Flute, Alto Saxophone and Trombone) as I regularly play these instruments and am a member and captain of Mossman State High's Concert and Jazz bands.
For my Physical activity l do personal fitness training, as I suffer from a rare disease (Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis - CRMO for short) so training in the gym and at home helps to mitigate my disease.
For my Volunteering section, I am a student mentor for the students in younger grades who are completing the Bronze Award. I help them to set up their Award and ensure they are getting their hours completed. I am also president of the environmental committee at my school where students can get volunteering hours for their Award and give back to the school and Douglas Shire.
For my Adventurous Journey, I am looking to do an exploration of local walking/hiking tracks. However, due to COVID-19 I have not been able to complete this section of the Award yet, so I am working at planning the journey as well as training to ensure that the walk can be completed.
What sort of challenges are you facing in your day-to-day life, as a result of COVID-19? How has this impacted you?
Due to COVID-19, schools have been shut for the first five weeks of term because of this I have not been able to mentor any students or help them with their Awards, however I have been using technology to overcome this challenge. The environmental Committee has also been impacted during the pandemic as due to social distancing regulations we cannot hold beach clean ups, tree planting days or continue with collecting plastic lids for Lids4Kids. COVID-19 has also impacted on my school’s concert band, with rehearsals being cancelled due to social distancing regulations, however I have been able to do this at home and continue logging my hours. I continue walking trails around my local area and working out at home to keep fit. To continue volunteering in the community, I have cleaned local waterways and supported students online with their Award.
Is the Award helping you deal with any of these challenges? If so how?
My Duke of Edinburgh Award has helped me with overcoming these challenges daily. The Award has allowed for me to become more resilient to change allowing for me to adapt - especially with COVID-19. The Award is a timeless measure of the great things that can come out of today’s generation. My communication skills have been further developed on a technological scale as they are needed to communicate with my Award Leader and other students which may need help doing their Award. I am forever grateful for the furthering of my skills which the Award has been responsible for, from managing new leadership roles to communicating ideas to a larger audience and showing kindness in the face of adversity like COVID-19, these are just some of the ways my Award has helped me to overcome challenges and it will continue to do so.
Have you had to adapt your Award activities as a result of COVID - 19? if so, how?
Due to COVID-19, concert and jazz band rehearsals have been postponed until school goes back, I have adapted to practising new music with different skills so that I am prepared when I can finally play with the band members.
For my personal fitness, gyms have been closed so I have been training at home and using local walking tracks to continue logging my hours and to prepare for my adventurous journey.
For my volunteering hours, I have been supporting students online to answer questions they may have or if they need help with a section of their Award. I have been participating in environmental projects with my family members, spending time cleaning up creeks and waterways.
Are you using your Award (and particularly your Voluntary Service section) to help your community deal with the challenges of COVID-19? If so, how?
I am using my volunteering section of my Award to clean up local areas, this has been helping to restore the natural beauty of local creeks, trails and water-ways in my area. Due to living in a rural area, I have no close neighbours, however I check up on them to ensure that they are doing ok
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?
To someone thinking of starting the Award, I would say 110% do it - even with the virus! Ensure you are safe whilst you are completing your activities! This new situation sparks wonderful volunteering opportunities between you and your neighbours or community. I would also refer to the saying "nothing ever worth having comes easy" and this rings true in the case of the Award. Start the Award and yes, at the moment it will be difficult to achieve your one hour a week for each of your activities but if you really want to do it you will find a way around the difficulties you are facing. The biggest thing about the Award to remember is its more than just completing your 13, 26 or 52 hours for each section, it’s about the people you help, inspire and the initiatives you create for others to follow, making your school or community a better place. You would never know how many great opportunities stem from participating in extra-curricular activities, like The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your time doing the Award?
I would just like to thank the Duke of Ed for offering such an amazing opportunity with this Award, it is very motivating for students to have goals and see the finished product at the end of the Award. This Award has helped me so much with my disease and reducing some of the pain I experience with it. My Award Leader, Jamie McPaul, has been an incredible mentor for me helping develop my leadership skills and encouraging me to start school initiatives like the Environmental Committee, I cannot thank her enough. I would also like to draw attention to the importance of Award Leaders and their commitment to students to ensure they complete the Award.
I have been able to support students at my school and give back to the community which is one of the most empowering and important things to me.