60 Years of Developing Infinite Potential of Young People in Canada


Photo © Duke of Edinburgh Award dukeofed.org

Helping Young People Discover Their Infinite Potential

Have you ever imagined what it would take to inspire young people to challenge themselves and achieve their full potential?

Inspired by his childhood experiences learning from renowned German educator Kurt Hahn’s teaching methods, the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh did just that. In 1956, he formed The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, a charity that now inspires young people in 130 countries to discover their passion, purpose and place in the world through non-formal education and involves one million participants globally.

In Canada, more than 500,000 have taken part since the Award was launched in this country in 1963.

“The Award means a lot to Canada, and Canadians have embraced the opportunities it presents,” said Stephen De-Wint, National Executive Director of the Award in Canada. “This program helps young Canadians build the skills and confidence to face the challenges of this modern world, preparing them for life beyond the classroom.”

The Award is a personal self-development program that is accessible and adaptive to all participants; it is open to young people ages 14 to 24 of all abilities and backgrounds. The program is non-competitive, with youth setting their own goals in four areas:

  • Community service—By giving service to others, young people develop a greater sense of self worth and builds their character
  • Physical recreation—Aims to improve health, team skills, self esteem, and confidence
  • Skill development—Provides an opportunity for young people to improve an existing skill or try something new, which leads to a sense of achievement and well-being.
  • Adventurous journey—Encourages a sense of adventure and self-discovery while connecting with nature and builds self-confidence, health, fitness, teamwork and leadership.

Young people also determine the pace at which they will fulfill their goals within the Award’s three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold, with Gold Awards typically presented at ceremonies presided over by a province’s Lieutenant Governor. The only deadline: Young people have until their 25th birthday to complete the Award.

Individuals are paired with an Award Leader from their Award Centre who helps navigate the nature of their award and the activities they want to develop, set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound) Goals, and track progress. Award Leaders act as mentors to motivate and empower participants to complete the goals they’ve set and transform the next generation through life education beyond the classroom.

Bronze Achiever Misimi Sanni appreciates the impact the Award has had on her life. “It helps encourage me to make a difference in my community, pushes me to discover my passion for new activities and helps me learn how to work towards my goals over the long term.”

The Award partners with organizations that serve young people ages 14 to 24, including schools, universities, Cadets, Girl Guides of Canada, Scouts Canada, youth groups, and more.

“The Award has become the perfect extracurricular activity for youth who strive to become well-rounded individuals,” Mr. De-Wint said. “As young people work towards their goals, they experience growth in areas that include leadership, teamwork, dedication and passion.”

“One of the best and most rewarding sensations this Award has given me is the utter happiness and sheer sense of joy I feel after spending a small portion of my day to effect change and improve someone else’s life,” said Roma MacDonald, a Silver Achiever.

Gold Achiever Carmen Darichuk described how her involvement in the program has helped her learn how to succeed in the face of the challenges and delays that naturally occur when you pursue a goal.

“The plan does not always work, and time does not stop, but choosing positivity and strength will ensure that everything ends where it is supposed to.”

the duke of edinburgh award
Photo © dukeofed.org

An additional Gold project of the Award is a unique experience that truly broadens the participants’ horizons by challenging them to work with others towards achieving a shared common goal.

The Award in Canada generates $3.50 in social value for every dollar invested in the program, which significantly impacts corporate social and environmental responsibility.

“The impact made by investing in youth is beyond measurable. We are so proud of our participants who choose to serve their community and build skills while overcoming challenges along the way,” Mr. De-Wint explained.

A key goal is to make the Award even more accessible to young people across Canada. To do so, the Canadian Award team is actively seeking to expand its network of Award Centres and Award Leaders and welcomes the interest of school administrators, community groups and companies that have an interest in youth advancement.

To learn more about how the Award Framework can support the young people in your community, we invite you to learn why investing in youth is a critical investment and how we can partner with the Award to build a stronger Canada where all young people can develop their infinite potential.

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About he Duke of Edinburgh Award

With more than 60 years’ experience equipping young people to be ready for the world, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is here to help. The Award is a development framework, used by organizations who  work with young people ages 14-24. The Award empowers young people to learn and grow through non-formal education, all while working towards a globally recognized accreditation. 


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