Successful Special Projects dinner results in reaching even more marginalised young people

Published: 28 Nov 2017

This month The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation was fortunate enough to welcome four Award speakers from across the globe to London for the 2017 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.

During the evening, the speakers shared their Award journeys with 50 guests, explaining how the Special Projects fund had postively impacted their lives and their communities.

Emmanuella, a Bronze Award holder from Ghana explained how her life was transformed when she came into contact with the ‘Ignition’ Special Project in Ghana which aims to help disadvantaged young people growing up in slum communities.

“I saw this as a great opportunity to transform my life. I was motivated because I had always loved music and adventure and wanted to learn about my culture and most importantly build my confidence. I took a giant step to challenge myself by doing the Award. My journey with the Award has been full of self-discovery and fun. It has been a life changing quest that is transforming my attitude and perspectives in life.”

For Monalisa, a Gold Award holder from West Bengal in India, her continued involvement in the Award by volunteering for a Special Project focussed on women’s empowerment, is a source of immense pleasure and pride for her.

“We teach participants the craft of paper quilling to make jewellery and other decorations to enhance their skills to bring them financial empowerment. The project has brought a new lease of life in the young girls. For centuries their talents and thirst for life has been suppressed by being married off at a very early age. Now by participating in the Award they have undergone tremendous personality development through enjoyable activities, adventures and new friendships. They have stepped away from the narrow boundaries of secluded domestic life into a wider world full of new opportunities and at the same time have become resourceful and responsible citizens. In fact the whole community has benefitted from the winds of change ushered in by them.”

The guests were also treated to a moving first-hand account of managing Special Projects on the ground from Radu Cicerone, the Special Projects Manager from the Award team in Romania. In his speech, Radu explained how the ‘Inside-Out’ Special Project in Romania was using the Award as a means to reintegrate young offenders into society. He also explained why the young people he worked with became passionate about the Award but had showed little interest in other re-education programmes.

“It's for the very simple reason that it’s them actually creating the programme, because they choose their own activities and it’s not forced upon them. Because the Award actually turns them into what they want to be: equal partners with the other people. Through the Award they discover their own purpose and goals. But more than that, because the Award enables them to discover themselves as they truly are – full of potential.”

Finally, Morema from Lesotho explained how his life has changed over the last 20 years during his involvement with the Award from participant, to Award Leader to National Gold Test Assessor. He also shared with guests his work to improve young people's positive thinking to help them achieve their dreams. He said:

“I will continue in my effort to develop myself and the Basotho Nation through the Award Programme and encourage others to do the same. I encourage all young people to take life as a challenge, positive results need positive thinking. I have learnt that there is a lot within me as a young person, to create a better world for myself and the people around me, instead of waiting for others to take action on my behalf. I have all it takes to impact my society.”

During the evening over £240,000 was raised which will allow the Special Projects to continue impacting the lives of more marginalised young people.