Broadening My Horizons

I first heard about the Award through the CPA/ING Mentoring programme in Sydney. I knew that a large part of it was about challenging yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone but because I live with cerebral palsy and hearing loss, I hadn’t considered that it was a possibility for me. I was wrong.

One of the facilitators on the programme, Kirsten, was also an Award Leader and she encouraged me to participate. Kirsten explained that the Award was open to all young people; that there were no barriers to participating. She reassured me that I would have her support 100% and I soon realised that I really wanted to challenge myself. All my friends and family convinced me to sign up and I’m so glad I did.

Achieving the impossible

I found the different components of the Award really satisfying. I took up film making and video production, swimming and water sports and for my Adventurous Journey, I went to a ski camp at Thredbo Mount Kosciuszko.

This part of my Award journey far exceeded my expectations and goals. I had no idea what to expect and surprised myself at how much I was capable of achieving. I returned home having thoroughly enjoyed myself with a group of fantastic people from various backgrounds who have now become great friends of mine. We learnt plenty, did things we thought were impossible and at the same time, had an unforgettable experience. Our team even managed to raise in excess of AU$20,000 for Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) which is something I am really proud of.

Growing in self-confidenceNicholas at ski camp

Living with cerebral palsy and moderate-severe hearing loss means that my ability to hold fluent conversation is a daily struggle. Since doing the Award though, people are amazed with my increased confidence and how I now feel much more comfortable communicating with people. I have definitely seen a positive difference in myself and believe the Award will be the vehicle to rewardable employment. 

I want people to remember that people like me are capable of being independent and competitive. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I have made many friends and by sharing our experiences, we have all become better people.

When I reflect on my Award journey, I think back to when it began, how I became involved, what I have managed to achieve in such a short time, what wonderful experiences I have enjoyed and the tremendous people I have met along the way. Involvement with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award has given me a truly meaningful goal to aim for. I guess the Award has taught me to challenge any obstacles and be comfortable with whatever I can achieve in life.

Further Information

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Find out more about the Award in Australia