Service and resilience at the heart of award programme

Issue: Volume 101, Number 2

Posted: 23 February 2022
Reference #: 1HASxi

‘Te takatū i ngā rangatahi katoa o Aotearoa mō te anamata whaihua’ means equipping all young New Zealanders for promising futures. Despite the challenges of Covid, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award has grown faster than ever to help rangatahi become confident, connected, and actively involved life-long learners.

Reaching the top of the Summit, and their goals with the Award.

Reaching the top of the Summit, and their goals with the Award.

Educators know the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award (the Award) as an organisation with more than 60 years’ experience challenging young people to dream big and discover their potential. All 14–24-year-olds can take part, with around 20,000 rangatahi involved at any one time.  

A non-formal education framework designed to complement the learning rangatahi do at school and kura, it takes a team approach with the Ministry of Education to achieve the vision of  The New Zealand Curriculum.

Like many others, the Award has been challenged by Covid-19. It responded by digitalising award units and adapting its activities to keep young people engaged. During 2020, they had an 11 percent increase in awards gained by young people.

Karen Ross, the national director, believes rangatahi see the skills and values that are part of the Award as more important than ever. As she puts it, even in lockdown, “if you can’t do anything else, you can do this”.  

Equipping young people for life 

The Award recognises that personal growth is important for young people, helping them develop the adaptability they need for good vocational outcomes. Nurturing that personal growth ‘takes a village’, so the Award works hand-in-hand with schools and kura, with a focus on inclusion.

To earn their award, young people progress through four sections: skills, voluntary service, physical recreation, and adventurous journey.  

Rangatahi are supported by a network of adults and get to volunteer with a range of diverse organisations – such as Habitat for Humanity, Age Concern, Heritage Gardens, Capital Arts Trust, foodbanks and conservation agencies, as well as volunteering in their communities, schools and marae. They take on projects in areas they are passionate about, like the environment, animal welfare, or social justice.  

“I love this programme so much. Everyone should do it – it only takes one person to make a change,” says Philippa from Ōtūmoetai College.

Service can build connections intergenerationally, with wellbeing benefits for all involved. Evy Hwangbo, who recently received her Gold Award, approached the problem of loneliness in older people.  

Evy was driven to start a non-profit called Genafriend, connecting older people with secondary school students. In Evy’s words, “the youth that get to interact with elderly people gain just as much because they’re so wise and you walk away with a whole new perspective on life. So, I just thought, why isn’t this happening more?”    

In the Hutt Valley, students from Hutt Valley High School Tautoko Supported Learning Centre have been regularly cleaning up rubbish at Hikoikoi Reserve in Petone.

In the Hutt Valley, students from Hutt Valley High School Tautoko Supported Learning Centre have been regularly cleaning up rubbish at Hikoikoi Reserve in Petone.

Service is not just to people, but also to the planet. Ākonga at the Hutt Valley High School Tautoko Supported Learning Centre clean up rubbish at Petone’s Hikoikoi Reserve.  

Gisborne Boys’ High School students are working to restore local wetlands, as part of their commitment to Enviroschools. 

“We are at the edge of a cliff … A question I am frequently asked by peers is ‘How can I help?’ My answer is always the same, by starting at home, in the community and in yourself,” says Sorcha from Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt.

The experience of Covid has spurred rangatahi to find creative new ways to build on their service, resilience, and problem-solving development.  

Alex Bengston, from Rahotu, collected watercress from his family farm, for contactless delivery to Parihaka marae. Alex says, “I have enjoyed getting out and doing something different during lockdown.”    

As well as benefiting communities, service also builds the skills and values that young people need for further study or work.

Young people are encouraged to think of the Award programme as ‘a process, not a prize’, showing their personal and social development.  

Irrepressible joy in the outdoors; passion, energy, inclusion, and new skills with Whenua Iti.

Irrepressible joy in the outdoors; passion, energy, inclusion, and new skills with Whenua Iti.

Accessible to everyone

The Award’s vision is that every young person in Aotearoa New Zealand will have the opportunity to participate. The organisation has been working with the Ministry of Education and other agencies to help put this vision into practice, reaching out to young people with disabilities, with refugee backgrounds, teen parents, their schools and kura, and the organisations that support them.    

Being able to ‘give back’ through voluntary service helps rangatahi with disabilities feel mana and confidence.  

IHC Foundation executive director Jan Dowland says the Award programme fits with the foundation’s strategy to “put greater emphasis on the development of people as leaders”.  

For students at Mana College in Porirua, gaining qualifications through the Award has been a ‘game changer’. Award qualifications can help students with disabilities demonstrate what they are capable of and can be built on once they move out of school and into the next phase of life.    

The Award has made dedicated funding available to encourage these rangatahi into the programme.  

Measuring impacts 

As well as developing employment skills, many young people who complete the Award will continue as volunteers. Other people in the Awards community, including adults and supportive organisations, also experience ongoing benefits.  

The Award team use an innovative approach to understand the social value of these ongoing benefits.

In 2018/19, then again in 2020/21, a social impact analysis was carried out. It found that for every dollar invested in the Award in 2020/21, the community received $5.77 of social value. The analysis found the Award increased service to charitable causes as well as social cohesion. It also improved employment pathways, physical health and fitness, and mental health and wellbeing.

Waicol special learning centre participant Patrick, who overcame some initial nerves to come up triumphant on the water.

Waicol special learning centre participant Patrick, who overcame some initial nerves to come up triumphant on the water.

 This social value added up to a total of $19.5 million for 2020/21 alone. The analysis then looked at future social value. This was based on the rationale that the Award creates positive habits and behaviours that may continue through someone’s life. Future social value was estimated at $40.9 million.

A focus on the future

As well as adapting to Covid-19, during 2020 the Award programme introduced a new pathway, the Kākāriki Journey. Responding to the passion young people feel for their planet, the Kākāriki Journey adds an environmental focus to the typical award ‘sections’.  

This year will see further growth. As part of its commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Award will introduce a Te Ao Māori pathway, developed with iwi. Rangatahi will be offered an opportunity to connect or reconnect with Te Ao Māori, through whakapapa, whanaungatanga, tuakiritanga, manaakitanga, tikanga and te reo Māori. 

Karen says she is excited for the possibilities that 2022 will bring. Her aim is to strengthen the educational partnership with schools.

“In a world where we are all struggling to make sense of what is happening, the Award provides rangatahi with a constant.  

“Hauora provides steadiness, service supports our communities, learning nurtures curiosity, and being part of a team grows leadership, resilience and discovering; by using their basic resources, they achieve success. He kai kei aku ringa. There is food at the end of my hands,” says Karen. 

Schools are invited to enquire about funding help available for schools and students who may need support to register.   

Karen says she sees the Award and schools as collaborators, developing rangatahi who can tackle the challenges of the future. 

To find out more about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award, and funding available, contact Karen Ross on nationaldirector@dofehillary.org.nz or visit dofehillary.org.nz(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 12:21 PM, 23 February 2022

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