How the Award Is Helping Payal Stay Active During Lockdown

Payal has been invovled in the Award for many years, she even helped found it in her cadet squadron! When faced with challenges due to covid-19 and changes to her classes and extracurricular activites, Payal took those challenges on in stride. Follow along with her story below!

Tell us about your Award journey – why did you decide to start your Award?

My award journey started in 2017 when I was looking on my cadet squadron’s website for uniform guidelines, and stumbled upon the Award. Intrigued, I dug deeper into the Award and what it was about. I thought that the Award seemed like an incredible opportunity to try new things and push myself to be a better version of myself. At the time, my squadron did not have the Duke of Ed program, so I talked to my CO (Commanding Officer), and from there, the Duke of Ed program came to life at 789 Squadron. I registered for my bronze award on my 14th birthday, which little did I know, was the start of my incredible journey through the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

What do you like about the Award?

The Award has been the little extra push that I’ve always needed to try new things. With each level of the Award, I tried something new, and with the help of the Award, I was able to stick with it. The Award does push you to be the best version of yourself. It gives you a strong sense of accomplishment, which, especially for me personally, further encouraged me to persevere and get stuff done.

What do you find challenging about the Award?

At times it was challenging to make sure that you do certain things every week and keep consistent, especially when you are unable to do something one week and have to make up time. It can also be challenging to make sure that you are consistently maintaining your logs and taking viable pictures.

What sort of challenges are you facing in your day-to-day life, as a result of COVID-19? How has this impacted you?
Since the pandemic, a lot has changed. I am an IB student. One of the most significant challenges that I have faced during COVID is the move to online learning, as well as having to stay inside practically 24/7. IB exams being canceled especially had the most substantial impact on me. It caused an air of uncertainty and stress because no one knew how our grades were being calculated, among other things.

Is the Award helping you to deal with any of these challenges?

The Award has most certainly helped me in numerous ways. It has helped me to stay fit and active even within the confines of my home. Exercising for the Award helped me stay sane and avoid getting cabin fever in the months that we were on strict lockdown. The Award also gave me something positive and concrete to focus on, which helped to curve my anxieties in other aspects of life.

“Exercising for the Award helped me stay sane and avoid getting cabin fever in the months that we were on strict lockdown.”

Have you had to adapt your Award activities as a result of COVID-19?

For the most part, my Award has been altered entirely by the pandemic.

For my skill, I had been using training nights at cadets, since in-person training has been suspended until further notice, the other senior cadets, and I have been doing a “”#StayAtHomeChallenge”” in which we made instructional videos to keep cadets engaged during the quarantine. I made different instructional videos as well as a juggling tutorial which were posted on our squadron social media.

For volunteering, since I was unable to go into the temple, I had to find other ways to serve my community. My Squadron’s SSC Chair Mrs. Lesiw put me in contact with a wonderful couple- Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, who are veterans in their 90s, and I was able to do yard work and other jobs for them every week, to continue the ‘Service’ aspect of my Award.

The activity aspect of my Award was the most straightforward aspect to adapt to the pandemic. I was able to do at home workouts, as well as go on runs- weather permitting. Keeping fit truly helped me stave off cabin fever and keep healthy.

Have you found any interesting solutions to help you continue with your Award during COVID-19?

Before my squadron started the #StayAtHomeChallenge, I had to find new and innovative ways to continue the skill aspect of the Award, like making study guides for the level 3 and 4 aviation exams well as other activities like an Instagram story bingo, or an at-home scavenger hunt.

Are you using your Award (and particularly your Voluntary Service section) to help your community deal with the challenges of COVID-19? If so, how?

I feel that I am using multiple aspects of my award to help those in my community deal with the pandemic.

For my skill, I helped junior cadets in my Squadron keep engaged with cadet activities and maintain their mental health during these difficult times.

Additionally, I also used the service aspect of my award to help those most vulnerable to the pandemic. I did work for Hughes, so they did not have to put themselves at risk of leaving their homes during COVID because the elderly, especially those in their 90s, are incredibly susceptible to COVID-19.

I am currently helping to prepare and deliver meals to the elderly in my community so that they can stay in their homes while also getting proper, nutritious meals.

Do you think being involved with the Award helps you and your community at this time? If so, how?

Being involved in the Award has, I believe helped both me and my community.

Through my Award I was able to help those most vulnerable to COVID, like the elderly. I was also hopefully able to help the junior cadets in my Squadron keep their mental health intact while they were in quarantine.

The award has also helped me tremendously, as it kept me active and working both physically and mentally. Going over to the Hughes’ house to help out became my favourite part of the week, because it gave me the chance to get out and make a positive impact in my community in a truly gratifying way.

Do you have any other comments or ideas you would like to share?

Duke of Ed has genuinely made me the person I am today, and participating in the Award has been the most rewarding part of the past three years.

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