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Youth Without Limits

Embracing new experiences can be daunting and nerve wracking, but our intrepid team of Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) students are having fun tackling a host of challenges and activities to earn the coveted award.

Four months into the DofE Award programme at ISA, we shine a light on this year’s cohort of brave youngsters who are smashing new goals, both physical and mental, while embracing new life experiences.

The DofE Award is a voluntary, non-competitive training programme providing young people with the opportunity to experience new activities and develop existing skills.

All our students at ISA are encouraged to participate in many different clubs and activities with the DofE proving a popular programme every year for those aged over 14. We encourage participation in the DofE scheme as it develops skills and abilities that are recognised by employers, as well as colleges and universities.

“Our DofE students are building self-confidence and responsibility, while gaining essential skills for work and life such as communication, problem solving and team working; all hugely beneficial life lessons to learn at a young age,” says James Cooper, our PE teacher and DofE Award Manager at ISA.

James explains the awards are personalised, and achievement focused, with students working through three progressive levels – Bronze, Silver or Gold Award. The programme is centred around 4 key areas:

  • Volunteering in the community
  • Engaging in physical activities
  • Acquiring new skills
  • Embarking on a group expedition

“This program isn't only about the outdoors – it's about shaping the 'whole child', moulding them for success in their youth and adult lives. With each section, they challenge themselves, push boundaries, and embrace new experiences, all in pursuit of personal growth.”

We currently have a cohort of 30 students working towards their DofE Bronze level award (age 14+) while in Silver (age 15+) we have 23 students and in the top tier of Gold (16+) we have 7 students.

In the Volunteering category, our students have many opportunities to get involved with both the school community and our local area. They have been visiting local care home residents, as well as supporting our environmental projects such as growing vegetables and woodworking, and helping with after-school activities.

The Physical Activity category focuses on staying active and building fitness with activities ranging from frisbee and volleyball, to climbing, swimming, and mountain biking to name a few.

The Skills based category offers students the chance to learn a new skill or develop an existing talent which can be anything from cooking, learning a new musical instrument, a sport or learning a new language.

The Group Expedition sees them embark on an overnight stay with hiking in the Greater Cairngorms area.

Back in September this year, the Bronze students took part in a training day to set them up for their upcoming expedition including learning how to pack bags efficiently, map reading, compass skills, and practicing setting up camp and cooking outdoors.

“The group expedition is a huge resilience test for them, and they always give it their all,” says James.

“Taking part in the DofE is not only an amazing achievement and a life changing journey, but it can also really make a difference in the lives of young people by supporting them to successfully navigate adult life.

“They get the chance to discover new interests and talents and experience it all with their friends and peers so it’s also a lot of fun.”

We spoke to three of our DofE students to find out how they’re finding the challenge so far.

Marla says, “DofE has helped me to develop good time management skills and encouraged me to try new things for the different sections.”

Sofia comments, “I’m so glad to have the opportunity to do DofE. I’m learning a variety of skills in an exciting and self-directed way, and it has allowed me to push my limits and get out of my comfort zone. These experiences are something I will carry with me into adulthood, and I am so thankful for that.”

And Ava adds, “DofE empowers me to go outside my comfort zone and feel good while doing so, I also get to make new friends and new skills because of it!”

As they prepare to take a break from training over the holiday season, we wish them well as they get set to try their hand at even more new challenges and experiences in the new year.

Good Luck to all our DofE students!

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