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Courtney Gage

Participant Gold

Participant Gold I am so proud of all the opportunities that the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has given me. In grade 9, I was encouraged by a teacher at my school to look into the Award as a way to explore more extra-curricular activities, grow and gain confidence, and step outside of my comfort zone. Looking back now, after having achieved all three levels of the Award, I can confidently say that the program not only enhanced my high school experience, but it also significantly impacted my life, and was definitely one of the most rewarding things I have every done. It has made a lifetime of impact in terms of how I will live my life going forward.

The Award encouraged me to continue buildings on the interests I loved, such as playing the guitar, and participating in sports such as soccer, volleyball, and skiing. However, it also inspired me to find a balance of new skills by opening me up to new experiences, such as volunteering weekly at a retirement home, and embarking on a variety of outdoor education trips. I quickly came to love all of these new activities and became proud of the relationships and new skills I gained. The combination of sports, service, skills, and travel in the Duke of Ed Program truly creates a well-rounded individual.

My favourite part of the Award experience was my Gold Project community service trip to Costa Rica, where I lived and volunteered in a small, underprivileged coastal community. I was one of 40 volunteers on this trip and was also the only participant from Canada. This was my first time travelling outside of the country alone, so it was a completely new experience for me, and very far outside of my normal comfort zone. However, I am so grateful that I took the risk because I ended up meeting some of the nicest and most genuine people and learned so much about myself and the world around me as well. Working in the local school, painting murals and building gardens, as well as helping to restore the local watershed were all very eye-opening and rewarding experiences. Also, being able to oversee the sea turtle conservation at the local beach was really exciting for me, since I have such a passion for animals and nature. I loved meeting members of the local community and learning more about their culture and trying local foods as well. The entire experience is something that I will never forget, and the friendships and memories made on this trip give me the encouragement to take more chances, ask questions, and to get more involved every day.

I am forever grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences that the Award has given me over the last couple of years. I feel as if I have become a much more confident, and a well-rounded global citizen throughout the entire experience, and plan on remaining involved on both local and global scales for the issues that are important to me and my generation going forward.

I strongly encourage young students to join the program in order to create their own memories, find their own passions, gain more confidence, and a greater appreciation for life, just like I did!
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