Special Projects Dinner highlights the fund’s continued success at reaching marginalised young people worldwide
Published: 6 Dec 2016
Last month The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation was fortunate enough to welcome three Award speakers from across the globe to London for the 2016 International Special Projects Dinner, hosted by TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex.
The Special Projects fund was introduced to give marginalised young people access to the Award so they can gain skills that equip them for life regardless of their background.
To highlight ongoing projects and to showcase new projects starting in 2017, the young speakers shared their Award journeys with 40 guests, explaining how the Special Projects fund had made a positive impact on their lives and their communities.
Gold Award holder John Quayson Jnr. from Ghana, explained how, by taking part in the Award, he escaped what is often referred to in Ghana as ‘Streetism’, a socioeconomic challenge experienced by many young Ghanaians. Not only did the Award give John direction but it also helped him recognise that he too had something positive to contribute to society.
"As a proud young Award holder who used to be loitering about on the street some two years ago, I can proudly say that I now serve people with the knowledge and experiences I have gained and acquired. Taking care of the children at the orphanages as part of my Service section was indeed a learning curve for me. It made me realise how important I am and how impactful I can be to society.”
Teodora, an Award Leader from Bulgaria, first came into contact with the Award while volunteering at an NGO supporting young people in correctional facilities. After learning about the Award’s programme and ambitions, she introduced it to the NGO in order to encourage the development of the young people she worked with. Teodora told the guests why the Award is so special:
"Young people who are thrown out of the ‘system’ become isolated from the rest of society. They become invisible. What I love most about the Award is that it is uniquely available to all young people regardless of their background, culture, physical ability, skills and interests. I saw the Award as a chance to appreciate the uniqueness of every young person and to recognise their individual needs and talents.”
For Brendan Compton, an Award Leader from New Zealand, the Award represents unity:
"The Award programme is about connecting communities, working together and acceptance of ourselves and others. This message is more prevalent today than ever and is what makes the Award so special. The Award is breaking down these barriers, breaking down the stereotypes, breaking down the hidden racism and building inclusive communities. Being funded as a Special Project, I see this being achieved on a daily basis. And this gives me hope."
The Special Projects dinner raised over £250,000 which means that new Special Projects can start impacting the lives of more marginalised young people in 2017.