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A silver lining in spite of Covid-19

UPDATE: Open Award Centre has taken the decision to cancel the venture scheduled to start this weekend.

Covid-19 has not stopped Award participants and leaders responding to the challenge.

In August Gold participants successfully complete their qualifying Adventurous Journey (AJ) in France. Now it is the turn of some Silver participants to go for it and undertake their qualifying AJ.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, whilst conscious of the need to ensure the safety of young people, is keen to ensure that young people are ‘#WorldReady’ and now, more than ever, that they are “ready for change, ready for a ‘new normal’, and ready for our new world”.

The “new” world means having to adapt to live and work with Covid-19 and the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award has adapted.

As a result of this, a group of young people from the Open Award Centre and Prior Park School, subject to Covid-19 related conditions remaining favourable, leave on October 25 to complete their qualifying Silver AJ.

Given that Covid-19 related restrictions were eased over the last couple of months the participants, who initially started planning and training for their AJ in September 2019, re-commenced activities including undertaking a practice a couple of weeks ago.

The 37 participants, whose ages range from 15 to 16 years, will travel by private coach to the Sierra de Gredos, in north-west Spain, returning on October 30, to complete the AJ, which for many participants is the most arduous part of the Award programme.

During their travels, the group will adhere to the current guidance and requirements in relation to Covid-19.

The AJ entails travelling by foot over three days with two nights spent under canvas undertaking purposeful effort during the best part of the three days; because of which the participants will probably cover over 48 kilometres.

The participants will carry all their food, tents, stoves, fuel, and other equipment in their rucksacks as they are expected to be self-sufficient during the venture.

As if that is not enough, they are expected to do this in unfamiliar wild country and do so by navigating their way along a pre-planned route, hopefully without deviating too much and definitely without getting lost.

But that is not all, the Award requires that participants undertake "a journey with a purpose" and to this end they will need to produce a written report of the venture. The topic is of their choosing and needs to be relevant to the area they are visiting.

Once at base camp, the participants will spend the first couple of days route planning, sorting out all their food and equipment and brushing up on their map reading skills.

Following the initial familiarisation period, the participants will then start the adventurous journey proper.

During this period, they will be monitored by independent assessors who will determine if the participants are observing Country Code procedures, correctly navigating across the various parts of the countryside and, meeting the Award’s requirements for a qualifying venture.

The participants and the Award itself are meeting the costs of the trip from a variety of sources, which include, personal contributions.

The Award and participants would like to thank the Government of Gibraltar for also supporting the venture through their youth grants.

The participants will be accompanied by adult leaders, Liam Reyes, Mandy Pitchford, Romany Vinent and Gabriella Grech who will all be acting as supervisors and, as such, shall be responsible for the general safety and wellbeing of the participants whilst away from the Rock.

The Award and the participants wish to thank them, and many others, for all the time they have spent over the years in getting the participants ready for the qualifying AJ and for accompanying them on this venture.

For more information about the venture please contact Paul Lyon, Chairman of the Open Award Centre, on 54027052.

To learn more about the Award as a whole or, if you would like to get involved, please contact the National Director, Michael Pizzarello, on 20051971 or email mjpizza@gibtelecom.net or visit the Dukes website at www.thedukes.gi