Sarah Sauvé

Gold Award Alumni

Gold Award Alumni

How the Duke of Edinburgh’s award influenced my life

I began my involvement in the Duke of Ed award programme in Grade 9, which is now 12 years ago – how time flies!  My family had just moved to Nova Scotia so it was a new school, new area and new everything!  I was always a high achiever and having already gotten in the habit of volunteering regularly and wanting to join the school band, which would mean learning a new instrument, getting involved in Duke of Ed just made a lot of sense.  The only really daunting thing about the programme was the physical aspects – I wasn’t particularly fit, nor did I enjoy sports or gym, and I had never hiked or camped before (outside of summer camps, with cabins and cafeterias..).

My very first Bronze expedition was, at the time, the most challenging thing I had ever done.  There were times I thought I would never finish, I was by far the slowest of the group, and there were tears.  It didn’t help that it rained for almost the entire two days!  But, I did finish, surprising myself with this accomplishment.  And that is where it began to really take root: the belief that I could achieve anything I set my mind to.

Slowly, I built myself up to bigger challenges, completing each award level and taking on more and more demanding leadership roles in organizations such as NSSSA and CISV, locally for both and also nationally for CISV.  Now, I’ve signed up for what is by far the biggest challenge of my life: I am racing in the Clipper Race around the world, a sailing race around the globe for anyone!  See, I’d never sailed before signing up to this, and that is one of the aspects that completely drew me into Clipper as a concept – no experience required!  Now that I am in it and surrounded by people who have signed up for the same adventure, it doesn’t seem like much.  But, taking a step back, it’s actually a pretty crazy thing to do!  And yet, I know that I can take on this challenge and come out better and stronger on the other side – both literally (sailing is hard work!) and figuratively!  I will be racing in Leg 5, which leaves from Airlie Beach in Australia, stops in Sanya, China and ends in Qingdao, China, aboard HotelPlanner.com with skipper Conall Morrison and an amazing team of people from all over the world of all ages and backgrounds!  I hope to also sign up for Leg 6, the Mighty Pacific Leg, to take me to Seattle, USA, where the biggest road block right now is financial.

Now that I’ve signed up to the Clipper Race, nothing seems impossible anymore.  For instance, for the month of October I will be cycling around the UK and Ireland, a travel choice that seems trivial when compared to ocean racing!  I’ve also challenged myself to make my way from New Zealand, where I will start my post-studies travels, to Newfoundland, where I hope to start working next year, without flying.  The race will help with that, but it only covers part of the distance!  It should be a fun adventure doing this, working to reduce my own carbon footprint in the hopes of inspiring others to do so as well.

Thanks to my involvement in the Duke of Ed award program, the world is my oyster – and it can be yours too!

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