The Duke of Edinburgh Award ceremony May 25, 2019 at Government House in Victoria. (Duke of Edinburgh Award BC & Yukon Division/Flickr)

VIDEO: B.C. youth receive Duke of Edinburgh awards for public service, personal achievement

Ceremony held May 25 at Government House in Victoria

Thirty-eight young people in B.C. and the Yukon who have been volunteering, developing new skills, and travelling far and wide over the past year were recently awarded with the prestigious silver level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

The awards are given to 14- to 24-year-olds, recognizing four areas: community service, skill development, physical recreation, and adventurous journey.

This year’s honours were handed out Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin on May 25 at Government House in Victoria.

Jennifer Lee of Burnaby recalls hiking the Chilkoot Trail in Yukon.

“One of my proudest moments was standing on the summit of the Chilkoot Pass,” Lee said. She remembered standing on the edge of the Canadian mountain range thinking, “Wow, I’ve come this far and I can see this huge expanse of wilderness in front of me.”

The Duke of Edinburgh Award has encouraged Lee to continue trying new things and explore.

“My next big plan is to canoe the Yukon River and continue to be a better Canadian.”

Kevin Javanmardi biked from Victoria to Sooke on the Galloping Goose Trail, which he described as a challenging task pushing his limits.

Despite the rain, he recalled making noodles with his father on a hot fire and looked to his older brother for inspiration on completing the trip.

“I kept in my mind that my brother did the same thing and I should be able to do it as well,” he said.

Isabella Gonzalez Kaminski has been pursuing the award through high school, focusing on sustainability practises including recycling, working on awareness of invasive plant species in Greater Victoria, and playing on her senior basketball team.

She described the achievers as driven and “doing something bigger than themselves.”

More than 15,000 youth participate in the program in B.C. and the Yukon, mentored by almost 1,000 volunteers through schools, community centres, and youth groups. There’s a special focus on low-income youth, youth with disabilities, Indigenous youth, new immigrant youth, and rural youth seeking new skills, adventures and challenges.

“These young people accepted this challenge for the intrinsic value of achievement and we honour their leadership. They are the leaders of today, and tomorrow,” said Sushil Saini, executive director of the award organization’s B.C. and Yukon division.

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