It feels appropriate at this time to be highlighting the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, after the recent death of Prince Philip. The award was inaugurated in 1956 and brought to Canada seven years later. It is designed to “motivate young Canadians to set goals and challenge themselves to take control of their lives and futures.” The award is designed for people between the ages of 14 and 24, with three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold.
When Leasider Sydney Murray first learned about the award a year ago at school, she thought it might be interesting because she “likes to challenge herself.” She is fortunate in that she attends De La Salle College “Oaklands,” which is an award centre for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, so there are also friends participating and teachers supervising.
The Bronze level, which she chose, requires improving in physical recreation, widening interests in skill development, making a positive difference in voluntary service and undertaking an “Adventurous Journey.”
Sydney chose swimming for physical recreation, requiring at least one hour per week of training over 26 weeks. She started serious swimming in Grade 6, and thinks she was inspired by her grandfather, Michael Koscec, who “adores swimming.” Little did she realize that a lot of her swim time would turn out to be dry-land training with the Toronto Swim Club. She hasn’t dipped in a pool since November.
For skill development, she chose photography with her phone. Her younger sister, Kate, was her subject for many photo sessions as Sydney was learning different perspectives on light, shadowing and highlighting. An art teacher at De La Salle evaluated her portfolio portraying her progress over the 13 weeks of active learning.
Sydney and her family live near St. Cuthbert’s Church. In fact, their house is only doors away from where her mother, Michelle Koscec, grew up, on the same street. Sydney has volunteered at special events at St. Cuthbert’s Church since she was small. For the award, she needed to volunteer an hour a week over 13 weeks, minimum. Sydney worked in the church garden, prepared and delivered several church mailings, and continues as an IT volunteer for broadcasting services on Sundays.
The Adventurous Journey is designed as a group activity, leading up to two days and one night away, usually involving hiking and camping, with lots of physical activity. COVID-19 restrictions certainly changed that! The Adventurous Journey is now called the Virtual Bronze Exploration, with three pages of minute instructions, including watching 26 videos on specific skills needed for the exploration. The most fun appears to be a “shared meal” – but each person is cooking it at home and then eating together via Zoom. Sydney’s group also worked together on a research project, focusing on a sustainable development goal set by the UN. They chose a goal for equality, and how women have been affected by COVID-19.
Congratulations, Sydney. This fall, it’s on to Silver!