Youth promoting peace

Published: 21 Sep 2015

Award participants from South Africa attempt to break the cycle of crime.

On International Day of Peace, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation is highlighting how The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award (the Award) brings young people together to participate in positive, often life changing activities, no matter their background or circumstance.

The Award, a non-formal education framework, plays a vital role in helping to address the challenges young people face on a global scale. It can empower socially excluded young people, reconnecting them with their communities and enabling them to meet people from different backgrounds. With the right skills and educational tools young people increase their potential to act as agents of peace, preventing crises and reducing violence and crime.

Award projects in post-conflict zones, including Sierra Leone, Uganda and Palestine, have made a positive impact on young people; opening a dialogue between diverse communities makes them more aware and accepting of one another and themselves.

Breaking the cycle of crime

Every night thousands of young people in South Africa between the ages of 14 and 25 are sleeping in a prison or secure care centre. The Award in South Africa (The President's Award for Youth Empowerment) is working hard to help break the cycle of crime by encouraging at-risk youth to participate in the Award.

“We are embarking on an extraordinary project, envisioned by Kobus Swart, a committed and dedicated Award Leader at Robertson Correctional Centre,” explains Lara Kruiskamp, CEO of the Award in South Africa.

“Thirteen inmates, current Gold Award participants from the Robertson Correctional Centre, will cycle 240 kilometres through the Langeberg region of the Western Cape from 21 - 24 September. On their route, they will stop at schools and in communities to share their personal stories. They will also explain how the Award has made a positive impact on their lives during their time in prison and how it can engage young people in positive activities before they become at risk of getting caught up in drugs and crime.”

For one young offender in South Africa, the chance to take part in the Award has enabled him to change his outlook on life. "Where was this Programme when I was in my community? I would not be standing here, behind bars today had I done the Award Programme. When I am released, I want to take The President's Award Programme to the youth in my community so that they don't follow in my footsteps."

Open to all

“The Award is open to all 14-24-year-olds, regardless of their background or circumstance, and we are committed to developing all young people, particularly those who may be marginalised or considered at risk,” says John May, Secretary General of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. “The Award provides a tried and tested way to support young people in overcoming challenging and vulnerable situations.”

You can follow updates from the 'Break the Cycle' team on Facebook.

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