"My name is Tom Delaney and I am 14 years old. I love to play music and sport and am always on the lookout for new opportunities to enrich my future and life as a young person in the community. I have recently started The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award which has led me to take part in some excellent community activities like helping out at the Blackheath Community Farm. This has allowed me to help the community, as well as given me a sense of purpose through assisting others in their work and meeting lovely people in the process. I chose to do The Duke of Ed because it’s a good achievement to have under my belt for later years, and I think it will look good on my CV. I also do it because it gives me more opportunities to connect with social groups and get involved with fun and beneficial activities.
The Duke of Ed Award has four components. First, one must take part in some form of Physical Recreation at least once per week for three months, in my case, cricket. Second, one must regularly train in some form of skill like a musical instrument, for me, saxophone. Third, one must regularly do community service like helping at a nursing home or local garden. And finally, one must attend two overnight ‘adventurous’ journeys like bush walking or kayaking.
There are three levels of the award, Bronze, Silver and Gold, each in increasing difficulty. I am new to the program, so I am starting with the Bronze Award.
At the Blackheath Community Farm I’ve been going along every week and have worked with some of the other ‘blokes’ on the construction of a large metal frame covering the entire garden. This assembly involved digging holes, raising frame arches, drilling holes in steel pipe, threading wire, levelling beams and much more. I personally spent most of my time threading wire and drilling holes on the frame and I have learned a lot about structural physics; also little tips on things like not pushing too hard on the drill and how to run a proper levelling line. At the garden we also work on harvesting crops, planting fruit trees and vegetables, watering the garden, constructing protection from birds and kangaroos, and nurturing seedlings. Every week we also hold a social lunch where we all stop work, sit around drinking cups of tea, and have philosophical conversations about the state of the world.
A problem in our society at the moment is the fact that people do not have enough opportunities to engage in community activities or become involved in new social groups. Initiatives like community gardens are very beneficial in solving this problem. I travel to Blackheath Community Farm once a week to meet with a beautiful collection of people, all with different stories, skills and interests who, without the garden, would probably never have met. All these people come together to socialise and have fun helping each other to grow food. I certainly feel better off from my involvement in these interactions. They have led me to have a broader outlook on life and have given me a very different perspective from which to assess day-to-day events. Thanks to taking part in these activities I now feel like I am much more connected to the community and can have a positive influence on people all over the Mountains, which I find very satisfying.
Learning how to build the cage with Don
The Duke of Edinburgh Award, and in particular the community service component, is an excellent initiative and I regard it as being a win-win situation. The participant gets to connect with their community and have fun helping others while the community receives welcome assistance from committed young workers. It has provided me with a better understanding of the benefits of helping the community and working with others in general."