Eric Prestie of Preeceville was one of 57 Gold Award achievers who participated in the Duke of Edinburgh National Virtual Ceremony to receive his Gold Award from The Duke of Edinburgh International Award on June 10.
Only three of the 57 recipients were from Saskatchewan. Prestie joined the Duke of Edinburgh program in 2017 at the age of 14 when he began the Bronze Award. Since 2017, he has dedicated many hours to completing all three levels of the program with the Gold Award being completed this past December.
The following was taken from the Duke of Edinburgh award website.
“The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a global program with the goal of challenging, empowering and recognizing young people between the ages of 14 and 24. Since 1963, we have helped motivate young Canadians to set goals and challenge themselves to take control of their lives and futures. The classroom is not the only place to nurture the potential of one of our country’s greatest natural resources – our youth.
We strive to reach young Canadians in communities across the country and provide a platform that helps them chart their individual lives and equips them with important life skills.
“For those who are unfamiliar with this global youth program, the Award is a charitable initiative that inspires young people aged 14 to 24 years old to develop their full potential by pursuing goals in four areas: community service, physical activity, engagement in nature and skills development. Along the way, achievers earn a Bronze, Silver and Gold Award, with the latter two categories typically presented by dignitaries that include a province or territory Lieutenant Governor or, when possible, a member of the Royal Family. ‘Because participants set their own goals, the Award is open to virtually all youth regardless of their abilities or limitations. As long as the youth’s goals meet the Award’s criteria, a volunteer Award Leader will be there to help mentor the participant as they pursue their ambitions,’ said Gold Award achiever Melissa MacAdam, a Nova Scotia-based lawyer who now volunteers as president of the Award’s national board in Canada.”
Individuals can choose to join the program at any level, but Prestie started at the Bronze level as soon as he was able to join. At the Bronze level, a participant chooses one category to complete for 26 weeks, while the other two categories require 13 weeks of commitment. A participant must log at least one hour per week in each of the categories. The program is flexible as a participant can select activities that are of interest to him or her or are available in their community.
Prestie said he selected bee keeping and learning to fly as his skill development over the different levels. His community service was a variety of activities including working at the Preeceville Wildlife Campground, cadet fundraising activities, assisting seniors with yard work and cleaning ditches outside of Preeceville. Through the levels of the program, Prestie has developed an appreciation for a regular fitness routine, learning new skills and the personal gratification from helping others.
Once he completed the Bronze Award, Prestie then signed up for the Silver Award which required him to complete 26 weeks of activities for all of the award categories. Direct entrants into the Silver or Gold Award levels must complete an additional 26 weeks in one category. The final Gold Award requires a year-long commitment in all three categories.
In addition to completing the three categories, an Adventurous Journey is required at each level. To complete the Adventurous Journey, each participant must complete a practice journey and then the qualifying journey. At the Gold level, the Adventurous Journey is four days and three nights long. Prestie was able to complete the majority of the requirements for the Adventurous Journeys through various cadet activities that he attended.
The Gold Award has an additional requirement of the Gold Project that is intended to get participants to interact with new people while working towards a common goal in an unfamiliar setting. Again, Prestie was able to utilize his cadet experiences to meet this requirement as he attended a summer training camp in Comox B.C. at the start of his Gold Award experience.
“I am happy that I could challenge this award founded by Prince Phillip, and am honoured to take part in something that bears his name," said Eric Prestie. "It is not every day that I get the chance to participate in a program that is internationally recognized. The award has given me an extra little push to become a better person by being involved in my community and making fitness a priority. I would encourage anyone that is interested in challenging themselves to sign up for the Award.”