Meet Anne, a Gold Award achiever from Saskatoon, SK. The Award has impacted how Anne sets goals, takes action in her community, and approaches and solves problems. Anne is now more willing to take on challenging opportunities because of the Award and understanding the rewards that will follow.
“My name is Anne, and I am a recent Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award achiever from Saskatoon, SK. My passion lies in art, such as filmmaking, animation, and writing. I enjoy learning new novelty hobbies, contemplating, and exercising. I had an excellent Award experience, which I shared with my three siblings, who completed the Award alongside me. The Award allowed me to broaden my horizons, network with new people, and see the world through a different lens.
The Award has helped me discover my infinite potential because the tasks I was pushed to take part in showed me that I could physically and mentally do more than I thought. I lived in my head most of the time, and although there were many things I wanted to try, I held myself back. The Award forced me to hike for hours in extreme temperatures, talk to strangers, develop problem-solving skills, and continue the same activities steadily, which initially seemed difficult but began to feel natural, easy, and rewarding.
American Sign Language
For the skill section of the Award, I chose to learn American Sign Language, which I also chose as my major. By the time I had finished the 78 weeks, I had decided to attend an event with deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Only a few people know sign language, and I was able to talk to people who often face a communication barrier. I was also asked to volunteer at some of their future events.
I am passionate about learning American Sign Language, which helped me develop better communication skills, not just with signing but also with meeting and talking to people and asking and answering questions, which was out of my comfort zone. I also feel more motivated to practice something every day.
I am most proud of completing the Adventurous Journey. This part of the Award took the most time and preparation, and I wondered if my group and I would ever get it done. I chose hiking for the physical recreation section, and after numerous weeks of monotonous walking, we still had to do additional training and food preparation for the Practice Journey. After the Practice Journey was a success, we had a failed Adventurous Journey attempt due to our tent getting soaked, and finally, the successful last attempt! Although I did gain more physical strength, it was my mind that was conditioned. The whole thing was an extraordinary experience that tested my limits and made me feel so awesome that I could withstand so much turmoil.
For my Gold Project, I volunteered at Lac Sainte Anne Pilgrimage, which immediately put me in a position to collaborate with other volunteers to ensure that everyone was provided with directions, rides, and food. Everyone had their assigned task, but I still needed to ask others for information and inform others to ensure things ran smoothly. Something unique about my Award experience was that I did it with my two sisters and one brother. Since we all did the same activities for everything except our Skill section, we had to schedule times that would work for everyone and motivate each other when someone was feeling sluggish. It made it easier to do it with them.
The Award has shown me that I can make a difference and help others and that even if I don’t realize it, I can impact others. Sometimes there were situations where I realized that if I weren’t there, things would have gone differently and that my team needed me. The Award showed me that I should help people more and gave me the skills to do so.
I learned that I like routine. Even though the repetition of doing some sections of the Award seemed tedious, and I am very spontaneous, it became a habit and felt normal after I kept going for some time. I learned that I could improve by setting reasonable goals, pushing through the challenging stages, and then being benefited with a new skill and good habits that permanently stuck which helped me develop my purpose.
The Award Impact
The Award is impacting my day-to-day life, as it has taught me to create thoughtful goals and stick to them, and that trying something that appears complicated is usually easier than I expected, and if it is not, I can still find a way to do it. I continue to practice ASL everyday exercise every day, and I am more confident with volunteering than I used to be. I have also seen and interacted with different communities and cultures, showing me different perspectives.
Unexpected Benefit of the Award
Although it seems obvious, I didn’t expect that I could benefit so much from working directly with other people. When it comes to my passions, hobbies, and goals, I consider myself a lone wolf or a hermit, and if I ever need to understand something, I read a couple of articles and work it out on my own. At first, I wouldn’t say I liked doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award alongside my three siblings because I thought there would be too much comparison. However, everyone has something different to offer, and it is more beneficial to help and support each other and be put into situations where teamwork is essential. I not only developed individually but also as a member of a team.
Life After the Award
I value time and understand that a lot can be accomplished in a specific timeframe if you set your mind to it, push through the pain, and keep moving. I also have fond memories from the Gold Project and Adventurous Journey, which I go back to from time to time as a reminder of resilience and making the most out of new opportunities. I use sign language almost daily, whether to practice or simply subconsciously. Additionally, I bake more often and help with cooking at home, thanks to the months of making and donating muffins.
After becoming fascinated by American Sign Language, I became committed to learning as much as possible about the language and Deaf culture. This allowed me to meet people in the community and understand the singing if I came across it in a movie or commercial. While I do not do as much hiking as I did during the Award, I still enjoy exercising and nature. I am also more open to volunteer work and still baking. I continue to practice American Sign Language every day and even watch the news in sign language now. Learning ASL has also revealed my interest in learning even more languages, which I plan to pursue.
Join the Award
I recommend doing the Award because it will push you to accomplish your goals with the support of a community. I sometimes set goals and lose interest or give up because it seems too complicated, and the benefit seems like it could be better. However, if you do the Award, when you feel like giving up, the thought of earning the Award will motivate you to pick yourself back up. When you are done, you will find the value of accomplishing your personal goals, not just the Award. If you want to improve yourself and need help figuring out where to start, do the Award!”
We thank Anne for sharing her story, we hope it inspires you to Join the Award, Volunteer with the Award, or Become an Award Centre.