The Earl met young people from four FE colleges and two schools at Coleg Gwent’s Torfaen Learning Zone, where they took part in a fast-paced series of challenges, working together in teams to tackle a range of activities reflecting the four DofE sections – Physical, Skills, an Expedition and Volunteering.
Attendees – a mixture of DofE participants and young people keen to learn more about the DofE – took part in a team-building challenge, picked up first aid skills, learned to pitch tents and pack equipment, and created their own mini campaigns on issues important to them.
Young people across Wales have been particularly hard hit by the challenges of recent years – navigating the pressures of lockdown, lost education and record levels of mental ill-health, combined with rising poverty and an ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
DofE Wales is working to expand access to the DofE for young people in further education and post-16 provision – at a time when accessible opportunities like this are needed more than ever.
The DofE is open to all young people aged 14-24, offering a chance to discover new passions and talents, gain practical skills like problem-solving and teamwork, and develop confidence and resilience – while working towards a widely recognised and respected Award. Young people choose their own activities and set their own goals – meaning their DofE can fit around commitments like study, work, caring responsibilities and social lives.
The DofE aims to reach one million young people across the UK by 2026 – with a particular focus on those who face barriers to taking part, such as young people from deprived areas or marginalised communities.
Coleg Gwent student Ffion Davies, 18, said: “DofE has given me life-changing opportunities I did not think were possible. The Award itself is highly recognised across the UK and I am sure my experience was no different to other Gold Award holders. I spent two weeks in Cambodia assisting in a local school with my fellow participants and, now, friends.
“The skills I gained from all four sections of my DofE greatly helped me in my career as a firefighter. From my experiences and skills gained from DofE, I have built a lifetime of experiences which I can carry forward in all aspects of my life and career.”
Rebecca Kennelly, Executive Director of UK Operations for the DofE, said: “It was fantastic to see young people from communities across South East Wales coming together today, and showcasing everything that’s best about the DofE – the chance to have fun, meet new people, challenge yourself and gain skills to help you succeed, whatever you choose to do.
“As a DofE Trustee, The Earl of Wessex is passionate about giving more young people in post-16 education the opportunity to do their DofE – so we’re delighted he could join us today, meet and thank DofE Leaders, and hear from young people themselves about the impact their DofE has had on them.”
Guy Lacey, Principal and Chief Executive of Coleg Gwent, said: “It’s been a privilege to host this auspicious Duke of Edinburgh’s Award event at Torfaen Learning Zone today. At Coleg Gwent, we’re proud to support the DofE to help our young people succeed and prosper as members of our community. So today, we welcomed learners from schools and colleges in South East Wales to join us in a day of inclusive activities, showcasing the rewarding opportunities the DofE offers young people.
“The event has been made all the more memorable by a special visit from The Earl of Wessex, as Trustee of the DofE. It’s been a wonderful and inspirational day for learners, demonstrating the value of the life-long skills they develop through the DofE, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the event.”
Students attended the event from Coleg Gwent, Coleg y Cymoedd, Bridgend College, Merthyr Tydfil College, Abersychan School and Crownbridge School.