Leaders recognised at Duke of Edinburgh Awards

Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey with the Bundaberg PCYC Blazers Youth Group at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards.

The leaders of tomorrow gathered at the Bundaberg PCYC for the annual presentation of Bundaberg PCYC Blazers Duke of Edinburgh Awards on Friday evening.

Accepting their award Bundaberg youth stood tall knowing they had achieved something great in the past 12 months, whether it was volunteering in the community or learning a new skill, each individual had set a goal and accomplished it.

The Bundaberg PCYC Blazers Youth Group started 13 years ago and has held the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards each year.

PCYC is Queensland’s largest provider of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, a multi-stage self-development program available to young people ages 14 to 25 that encourages them to set their own goals and challenges, work towards achieving them, and then be recognised at the end for sustaining the commitment they have made.

Duke of Edinburgh Awards help youth to flourish

Emily Kosten has been a Bundaberg PCYC Blazer for two years, and joined as she wanted to expand her horizons and learn new skills.

“I was very scared the first time I came, but that didn’t last long; this is the first interaction I have had with the PCYC and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.”

Receiving her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award Emily said to earn each award a participant had to undertake a number of activities within a certain time frame and there were three sub-sections.

“One is skills, one is community service and the other is physical recreation,” Emily said.

“You have to complete the three levels with the time frame and then you will get your badge.”

Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey with Bundaberg PCYC Blazers Youth Group coordinator Trevor Standfast and members Emily Kosten, Alysa Hutchinson, Connor McCartin-Snape and Jemima Pacey at the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

To earn an award, each young person must learn a skill, improve their physical well-being, volunteer in their community and experience a team adventure in a new environment.

Now that Emily has received her gold award, she hopes to continue with the PCYC Blazers as a leader.

“I want to be able to help other people; it’s a fantastic feeling tonight to have achieved this – it means a lot,” she said.

“It’s not just something you can just get when you want – it takes a lot of time, bravery and you need to put yourself out there and achieve all these things – it’s beyond amazing!”

Emily said the group was very supportive and often helped one another to make sure no one was left behind.

“The entire group is very supportive, and they will support you no matter what,” she said.

“With your adventurous journey we are a team and would never leave someone behind; we work together and get the adventure journey done.”

Leaders of tomorrow at Duke of Edinburgh Awards

Handing out the awards Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey congratulated the participants saying they were the leaders of tomorrow.

“The PCYC Blazers are an exceptional group, doing exceptional things in our community,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“It’s inspiring to see such a wonderful group of our young people working as individuals and as a team, to achieve greatness here in Bundaberg.”

Mayor Dempsey said each of the award recipients had risen to the challenge with determination to succeed and build resilience, which was a vital part of the Bundaberg Region.

“We have these young people here, who grasp an opportunity to do something, they stand up and help in their community and that’s inspirational!”

Program coordinator Trevor Standfast said the group was like one big family and the awards night was a chance for the youth to celebrate their achievements with their parents and families.

Trevor said the program had a flow-on effect and the participants would often see a positive change in their school and sporting life.

“We get feedback all the time from parents about the difference in their kids from doing these sorts of programs,” Trevor said.

“It is open for everyone, and the participants learn so many new skills, from outdoors and camping to volunteering and community engagement.”

He said the volunteering and community service included helping at the PCYC Markets and helping with the Chinese New Year celebrations and organising the Blue Light Discos.

“Earlier this month we hosted the world’s first Edinburgh’s Games here in Bundaberg,” Trevor said.

“It was the first in the world and Bundaberg PCYC hosted it which is just amazing!”

Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards
Ronette McCartin said her son Connor McCartin-Snape had changed his outlook on life since joining Bundaberg PCYC Blazers Youth Group.

PCYC Blazers group makes a difference

Bundaberg North State High School Year 11 student Connor McCartin-Snape joined the Blazers Youth Group a year ago after his school friends, Emily Kosten and Jemima Pacey had told him great things about the group.

“I was constantly told awesome things about the group and I wanted to join to help make a difference in the community,” Connor said.

Connor’s mum Ronette McCartin said the difference she had seen in Connor since he joined the PCYC Blazers was amazing.

“Since becoming involved Connor has come out of his shell, he now has a personality where people are drawn to him and I put that down to being in this group – it’s the best thing he has ever done!” she said.

“Since joining I’ve seen a difference in Connor with his study, it’s changed him – he is focused and we are so grateful.”