Students follow another path to success
Students who might finish secondary school with no formal qualifications are now leaving with awards that recognise their skills and community connections.
At present students with intellectual disabilities are taking advantage of an alternative pathway to success by enrolling in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award.
The award encourages young people to develop skills that help them and their communities. Students can progress through three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold – designing their own challenges based on their interests and ambitions. Participants take part in physical challenges, volunteer in the community, work with social enterprises and gain skills that can lead to employment opportunities.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award celebrates its 60th anniversary in New Zealand this year and while it has always been available to disabled students, it has started developing a programme that enables more young people to use the framework more effectively.
In 2021 the IHC Foundation gave a $20,000 grant to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award to expand this adapted programme for young people with intellectual disabilities. A second grant of $20,000 was made in 2022.
To deliver the adapted programme, the Duke of Edinburgh programme partners with schools and disability support organisations. There are around 20 schools and organisations that cater purely for intellectually disabled students throughout the country.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award Coordinator at Mana College, Cam Fraser, says, “The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award has been a game-changer in terms of offering qualifications that our disabled students might not otherwise gain. Many of our rangatahi will leave school without even NCEA level 1, which sadly will close many doors for them. The award shows to others what they are capable of, and it is something they can continue to work at as they move into their next phase of life.”
In 2021 YES Disability Resource Centre became a partner of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award. YES Disability launched the award in Auckland for young people with disabilities, to help them on their personal journeys of self-discovery, responsibility and commitment.
In 2022 YES Disability supported seven participants through various levels of the award, with four certificates gained.
Louisa Kelly, Programme Coordinator for Manaaki Ability Trust, has run the award for the past four years. Louisa, an award-holder herself, knows the value of the programme. “These guys could really benefit from this – a programme that acknowledges and understands their thirst for life.”
Louisa advocates for learning beyond the classroom: “Academic studies have often limited student success, but the award shows that there much more to life.”
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Chief Executive Emma Brown says: “Through the generous support of organisations such as the IHC Foundation, more and more young people with intellectual disabilities have been able to discover their infinite potential through the award. We have been honoured to be able to work on this programme with a range of incredible organisations across Aotearoa, and we look forward to continuing to build upon it in the years to come.”
Prince Philip launched the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme in 1956. Seven years later the award was launched in New Zealand. With the death of Prince Philip, Prince Edward, the present Duke of Edinburgh, is now patron of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
Caption: A team from Manaaki Ability Trust practise the hill climb and fitness training for their Bronze Adventurous Journey over the Orongorongo Track, with an overnighter at Turere Lodge. (From left) Karen Cabezas, Lacey Collier, Conor McCarthy, Louisa Kelly, Patrick Whittaker, Emma Kelleher, Lucas Whittaker Tovey, Stephen Bell-Cummings, Sheldon Valster, Michael Langley and Johnny Fidow Mose.