We are ambitious for young people and believe that non-formal education is a critical part of a young person’s development and not just an occasional 'add-on'. We believe what young people do and learn outside the classroom, often in their own time, should receive adequate recognition and appreciation.

The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award defines what good non-formal education looks like. It provides a tried and tested framework for its delivery in any context where young people might be gathered, and allows achievement to be recognized in a way that is consistent worldwide, giving young people internationally recognized accreditation of their experiences.

What is the Award?

The Award is about individual challenge. As every individual is different, so too are the challenges that young people undertake to achieve their Award. With guidance from their Award Leader, Assessor or other Award volunteers, each young person should be encouraged to examine themselves, their interests, abilities, and ambitions, then set themselves challenges in the four different sections of the Award. These challenges should require persistence and determination to overcome.

Each young person who takes part volunteers in their community, learns a skill, improves their physical fitness, and experiences a team adventure in a new environment.

Young people do not need to excel to achieve an Award, they simply need to set personally challenging goals for improvement and then strive to reach those goals. A demonstration of commitment will help a young person get out of the Award what they put in: essentially, there are no shortcuts to a real sense of achievement.

The Fundamentals of the Award

  • Provides a framework that works with all young people in any conceivable situation which includes: youth at risk, Indigenous youth, new refugees, marginalized youth, young people in regional and remote communities, and young people with disabilities
  • Assists with the provision of social infrastructure in the community and draws together and connects people, institutions and generations with the common purpose of youth development and inclusion
  • Focuses on capacity building by encouraging all young Canadians to make independent decisions and to negotiate priorities through participation
  • The criterion for gaining the Award is individual improvement through persistence and achievement, taking into account the participant's initial capabilities, and without any element of competition between participants


Interested in delivering the Award?


Interested, but still looking for more information? Learn about the Award's phenomenal impacts for young people and your community.

  • Before I knew about [the Award], I was in a place where things didn’t seem possible without criminal activity... fast forward one year and I am a completely different person than I used to be. The Award has awakened a part in me I didn’t believe existed (and) has allowed me a second chance into showing [everyone] who I really am.
    - K.A., Bronze Award Achiever
  • This Award has really helped me to shape my identity and encouraged me to strengthen my independence. [The Award] has inspired me to take risks and live my life to the fullest. I’m so thankful that I chose to participate because it’s been a truly life changing experience.
    - Ian R., Bronze Award Achiever
  • I have confidence that this experience has made me more "World Ready" as it taught me the importance of knowing when to back away and understand my limits. In this fast-paced, constantly evolving world, I believe that the skill of saying "no" and setting boundaries will be of utmost importance to maintain well-rounded, fulfilled, capable and mentally healthy individuals.
    - Charlotte H., Silver Award Achiever
  • All that time in sport has taught me will and motivation are without a doubt, the most important factors in achieving one's goals… it gave me the opportunity to represent my province at the Canada Games and join the UBC rowing team where I got to train with and learn from future Olympians.
    - James K., Gold Award Achiever
  • J.P. was a challenged 16-year old, six foot, close to 370 pounds. We set a goal, for himself, to run non-stop around the gym for more than two laps. At the time, running more than 10 steps would have been a major undertaking. After four months of perseverance, he successfully completed four laps… he proudly declared himself an “athlete”.
    - Jim Thorne, former Award Leader