The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award was inaugurated in Central Punjab by Country Director Mr Attaur Rehman at Changa Manga Resort here.

Having its country office in Pakistan at Rangoon Wala Community Centre, Karachi, the award is currently being run in 113 countries with 5 million young participants. The award management announced Mr Waqas A Khan as its representative for Central Punjab. At the inauguration, more than 600 students from 30 different schools and colleges of Central Punjab filled their membership forms to become an active participant in award activities. Mr Waqas is a PhD scholar from University of Management and Technology and has vast experience to manage and run such activities.

On the occasion, Rehman said, “This is an exciting self-development Programme available to youth worldwide equipping them with life skills to make a difference to themselves, their communities and their world. To date about 5 million youth from over 113 countries have been motivated to undertake a variety of voluntary and challenging activities. The Award is flexible and can be done by anyone aged 14-25 in their own time: mental or physical ability or social circumstances should never be a barrier.” Moreover, he added, the individual chooses what activities to do depending on his/her interests and resources. Even young people aged above 25 can get involved by becoming an Award leader, the backbone of the Award Programme and the key to its success, he said.

He said, “There are three levels of the Award in which youth can participate - Bronze, Silver and Gold, with each successive level demanding increased commitment. Bronze Award is for those over 14. The minimum period of participation to gain this Award is 6 months; Silver Award is for those over 15. The minimum period of participation to gain this Award is 12 months and the Gold Award is for those over 16. The minimum period of participation to gain this Award is 18 months.”

Talking on the inauguration ceremony, Mr Attaur Rehman said, “You do not have to start at the Bronze level. If you are over 15, you can join directly at the Silver level or if you are over 16, directly at Gold. You will complete silver in 6 months if you have Bronze and may take one year for Gold if you are a silver holder.” He said that to gain an award, all four sections (plus an additional requirement of a Residential Project at Gold level only) must be tackled for the specified minimum period of time. The Sections are Service, Expedition, Skills and Physical Recreation. In Service youth have to be encouraged for a sense of responsibility to the community through community service projects, conservation work, voluntary service in hospitals or community homes or more specialised training such as lifesaving, first aid or rescue services. The emphasis of this Section is the regular giving of a service.

Expedition is an enjoyable experience designed to cultivate a spirit of adventure and discovery; an understanding of the environment, and the importance of working together in a team with a common purpose. The Adventurous Journey may be by foot, bicycle, boat or horseback, or alternatively it may be an equally challenging adventurous journey. Proper training and preparation, self sufficiency, self-reliance and the exploration of new surroundings are the key elements. If a youth is feeling particularly adventurous, the Adventurous Journey Section could be fulfilled overseas, perhaps on an organised exchange with an Award group from another country. To gain an award learning skills is a must to encourage the development of personal interests and learn practical skills. There are over 200 hobby and vocational skills from which you can choose, such as Photography, Cacti Growing, Magazine Production, and Metal Work. Physical Recreation is also a part of it to encourage improved performance and physical fitness. Participants are required to take part in some form of organised physical recreation and show individual progress. Most team and individual sports are included, such as football, athletics, archery, swimming and canoeing.