17-year-old attains gold level in Duke of Edinburgh award program
By Debra Downey, Senior Editor
John Robertson, 17, picked up the challenge issued by His Royal Highness Prince Philip and passed with flying colours.
Robertson was among 103 Canadian youth who received the The Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award of Achievement at a ceremony in Toronto, presided over by Governor General of Canada David Johnston.
“It was a neat experience,” Robertson said of the presentation ceremony. “I was very proud to receive the gold Duke of Edinburgh award and to meet the Governor General. I was very honoured and proud to be part of it.”
Robertson, who graduated last month fromHillfield Strathallan College, was introduced to the program during Grade 9. Open to youth aged 14 to 25, it challenges young people in four areas — community service, skill development, physical recreation and adventurous journey.
The Ancaster resident diligently worked his way through the bronze and silver levels by volunteering at the school library, supervising young skiers on trips and serving as a lifeguard; mastering the skills required to play a six-string electric guitar; snowboarding, swimming, snorkeling, rugby, wake-boarding, biking, golfing and canoeing; and completing an adventurous four-day canoe trip in Algonquin Park.
The final step in earning gold status was a residential project that involved Robertson spending six days as a Toronto Brigantine Tall Ships trainee, lifting and lowering sails and conducting general maintenance of the ship.
“It was an interesting experience,” said Robertson. “I had no idea it required that much effort to keep the boat afloat, but you learn about teamwork, cooperation and good things like that.”
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was founded by Prince Philip to encourage personal development and community involvement for young people. Since it was established in Canada in 1963, more than 500,000 young people have taken the challenge.
Robertson said he would definitely recommend the awards program to others.
“I really liked the kind of outdoor aspect (to the program) and the independence of it. It gives you the opportunity to set your own goals,” said Robertson.