HISTORY OF THE AWARD
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is the world’s leading youth achievement award, bringing together practical experiences and life skills to create committed global citizens and equipping young people for life. Since it was founded by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1956, over eight million people have participated in the Award in over 140 countries and territories. Every day 548 young people across the world achieve an Award.
Our ambition is that every young person aged 14 to 24 in the world should have the opportunity to participate in the Award. Whilst the name of individual operating authorities may differ from nation to nation, the Award and its unique reputation with employers, policy makers and influential leaders in society remain unchanged and consistent. The Award, with its instantly recognisable levels of Bronze, Silver and Gold, is voluntary, non-competitive and available to anyone aged 14–24. It is about individual challenge. Young people design their own Award programme, set their own goals and record their own progress. They choose a Service, Physical Recreation, Skills activity, go on an Adventurous Journey and, to achieve a Gold Award, take part in a Residential project. The only person they compete against is themselves, by challenging their own beliefs about what they can achieve.
The Award is open to all young people regardless of their background and circumstances. It is delivered around the world by schools, colleges, universities, employers, social clubs, uniformed and non-uniformed youth organisations, young offenders’ institutions, religious organisations, sports clubs, and a whole host of other civic organisations. Recent Award projects around the world have focused on involving young offenders, street children and former child soldiers. The impact of the Award on these and many more young people is extraordinary: it transforms their lives.
History of the Award
The Award Programme grew out of the efforts of three men, who were responding to a common anxiety about how best to engage young people. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was set up in 1956, by HRH Prince Philip, Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist, and Lord Hunt, leader of the first successful ascent of Everest. Based on the philosophy of Hahn, the Programme was designed around four sections: Rescue & Public Service Training, the Expedition, Pursuits & Projects, and Fitness.
Although initially only available to boys aged between 14 and 18, there was great demand for a similar scheme for girls, and this was launched in September 1958. The Programme continued to evolve over subsequent decades, until 1980. At this point, the upper age limit was extended to 25, and the Programme took on its current four Section format of: Service, Adventurous Journey, Skills and Physical Recreation.
The Award goes Global
As soon as the Award was launched there was great interest from outside the UK. It spread initially through the enthusiasm of international schools, but soon youth organisations across the British Commonwealth were running the Programme. By 1971 the Award operated in 31 countries; this had increased to 48 countries by 1989 as it spread beyond the boundaries of the Commonwealth. Such rapid expansion led to the formation of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Association (IAA) in 1988. At the same time, the overall title of The International Award for Young People was adopted to describe the Award worldwide. Many countries adopted different names for their Award Programme particularly those outside the Commonwealth. These different names still exist today but whatever the name, the Award’s the same!
An Award for all Young People
Global expansion over the last 50 years has enabled the Award to reach more and more young people. Today there are over 120 countries operating the Award – 60 of these on a national basis. However, the Programme is now expanding in other ways, targeting those who have not previously had opportunities to develop themselves. Recent Award projects around the world have focused on involving young offenders, those with disabilities, street kids and aboriginal communities. The impact of the Award on many of these young people is extraordinary: it transforms their lives. The Award has come a long way since 1956, when it was launched in the UK. It is as relevant as ever and has something to offer every young person in the world, wherever they are, and whatever their circumstances.
Mission and Guiding Principles
Our guiding principles have been established in order to ensure that a young person has a meaningful and purposeful journey through their Award, as well as ensuring that the impact of achieving their Award provides a lasting personal legacy. The Award’s guiding principles are as follows:
Individuals design their own programme, which can be tailored to suit their personal circumstances, choices and local provision. They start at whichever level suits them best and they can take as long as they wish (within the age limit) to achieve their Award.
Doing their Award is a personal challenge and not a competition against others. Every participant’s programme is tailor-made to reflect their individual starting point, abilities and interests.
An Award is achievable by any individual who chooses to take up the challenge, regardless of ability, gender, background or location, with the right guidance and inspiration.
Whilst the Award may be offered within school, college, work time, custody or extra-curricular activity, individuals choose to do a programme and must commit some of their free time to undertake their activities.
Participating in their Award programme fosters personal and social development. Individuals gain valuable experiences and life skills, grow in confidence and become more aware of their environment and community transforming them in to responsible young adults.
The Award provides a balanced framework to develop the individual’s mind, body and community spirit by engaging them in range of activities in up to five different challenges.
At each level of engagement, the Award demands progressively more time, commitment and responsibility from the participant.
The Award inspires individuals to exceed their expectations. They are encouraged to set their own challenges and goals before starting an activity, aim for these goals and by showing improvement will achieve an Award.
The Award requires persistence and cannot be completed with a short burst of enthusiasm. Participants are encouraged to continue with activities and to maintain their interest beyond their programme requirements.
Participants and Leaders should find the Award enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding.