A group of three Coleg y Cymoedd Vocational Access students based in Nantgarw, Cardiff, have made history by achieving the first-ever Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Gold Award for their institution.
The prestigious achievement showcases the students’ dedication to self-improvement and to making a positive impact on their communities.
Available to young people between the ages of 14 and 24, the DofE programme is made up of three progressive levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) that are achieved by overcoming a personal challenge or boundary.
Qualifying activities involve demonstrating a commitment to the environment, becoming fitter, developing new skills and planning, training for and completing and expedition.
In order to attain the coveted Gold Award, the young person must further participate in a four-day residential unit.
This year’s Coleg y Cymoedd students achieved this feat in collaboration with Stump Up for Trees—a charity organisation based in Abergavenny. Courtney Williams, Ian Wilkes-Evans and Hannah Fletcher spent four days planting almost 2,000 trees.
Impressing assessors with their contribution towards conservation in the community, the students were awarded with the highest DofE accolade, and invited to Buckingham Palace to receive their certificates from a Member of the Royal Family early next year.
Kay Spears, a staff member who volunteered to help on the residential stay, spoke of the students’ achievements: “This was my first time on a DofE course and it was amazing to see all the hard work that goes into it.
The students were outstanding; they stepped out of their comfort zone and enjoyed every minute of it, making friends and building confidence. This was a milestone opportunity for them as they learned to believe in themselves. It’s so important for young people to face challenges head on and prove to themselves just what they’re capable of.”
Through the programme, the students have not only had fun and improved their self-esteem, but they also gained lifelong skills along the way.
Vocational Access Lecturer, Val Smith, led Coleg y Cymoedd’s DofE entry this year. She commented: “The enhanced skillset following a DofE expedition includes resilience, problem-solving abilities, team-working capabilities and communication. Skills in these areas will not only help the students personally, but will enhance their CVs as well as university and job applications.
Top employers highly value individuals who possess these work-ready skills, ensuring that Courtney, Ian and Hannah will be sought after as they enter the professional world.”
Coleg y Cymoedd’s Vocational Access courses provide accessible entry to further education and lifelong careers. Find out more by visiting: Access to Higher Education – Coleg y Cymoedd
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Rhondda Cynon Taff