Group setting out on practice expedition
Growing numbers of disadvantaged youngsters are experiencing the thrill of learning new skills as they tackle Duke of Edinburgh Award challenges with support from Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
A £5,000 Crime Prevention Grant awarded by Commissioner Alan Charles earlier this year enabled the independent South Derbyshire Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Open Award Centre to take on three times more participants than expected.
Difficulties in obtaining funding for running costs all too often limits take-up of the schemes to young people mainly from well supported family backgrounds – a situation that the Commissioner is keen to remedy.
Mr Charles commented: “Providing challenging opportunities that young people enjoy while at the same time learning valuable life skills is so important for all youngsters to experience success and focus on the future.
“These opportunities are particularly valuable for youngsters who might otherwise be at risk of getting into trouble at school or finding themselves tarred with the brush of anti-social behaviour. Striving for much-respected awards like these helps to establish self-worth and the understanding of what being a valuable member of the community is all about.”
A number of local organisations have also stepped forward with exciting projects aimed at extending the youngsters’ skills, said DofE Centre Manager Phil Marriott. These included the chance to work alongside Derby Aero Club volunteers and skilled aero engineers on vintage aircraft restoration such as a 1950’s build single-seater Turbulunt Druine, once owned and flown by the HRH the Duke of Edinburgh.
As a result of this, six young people have chosen to do aero-modelling as part of the Award’s skills section. Liz Morrow, Secretary to the Board of Trustees at Derby Aero Club said, “The Trust recognizes the importance of encouraging young people to develop an interest in aeronautical engineering, and hopes that through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme this might come to fruition. One of the more recent ideas that is being considered by the Trust is to create a flight simulator within an old fuselage, and with the help of the group, who we are hoping will paint the old fuselage to 'jazz' it up”.
Mr Marriott said the aim now was to continue to provide the means for disadvantaged young people to take up the Duke of Edinburgh Award who would otherwise find it difficult to do so, and to build on the experience gained by the volunteers who lead the activities. “Overall, and because of the PCC grant received, the project has been a resounding success,” he added.
Youngsters now heading for their Bronze Award include participants who could not be persuaded to join an established youth group, he pointed out.
In its first year as a newly approved Centre, the volunteers leaders had expected to take on no more than six participants but actually registered 21 contenders. Of those, 13 are expected to achieve their Bronze Award by next January.
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Posted on Thursday 23rd October 2014