By Kathy O’Brien.
“ A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”
The DofE is a small, much-loved charity which has complemented the educational system for over 60 years, helping make young people into great people. One thing unites young people: they are all obliged to go to school. Many wish they didn’t have to – some bunk off; others disengage, drifting to the margins of their classrooms and communities. Many young people – and their schools, parents and communities – think the DofE “isn’t for kids like them.” At a time of crippling cuts to youth services across the country, the need for the DofE has never been higher.
We do most of our work through schools (over 70% of state schools) because that is where we can reach the maximum number of young people and affect the most change, but we also work with Scouts, Guides, Cadets, Special schools, Prisons , Young Offenders Institutes and businesses.
They may not know it right now, but today’s young people doing their DofE are developing skills which will protect them against the challenges they will face in adulthood.
We are future-proofing the next generation to be resilient, confident, team-players; in a world that is becoming more and more insular and self-absorbed.
Against a backdrop of the pressure to achieve ‘perfection’ without too much effort or hard-work, our approach gives young people the time, space and support to learn a new skill, stay fit and healthy,
Did you know that a quarter of British adults never step outside their comfort zone. The top reasons for holding us back from challenging ourselves were anxiety and disliking changing our routines.
Yet half of us believe that setting personal challenges is important and 43% want to be more adventurous.
This is why we’ve launched DofE Adventure.
DofE Adventure is your opportunity to rekindle your appetite for adventure. You can choose from 25km or 50km hiking challenge across the stunning Peak District over one or two days (30 Sep-1 Oct). And on this occasion we’ll put your tent up and give you a hot shower when you reach base camp.
DofE Adventure is your chance to step outside of your usual routine and boost your confidence – we even have a training guide to help you get ready!
By taking part in our DofE Adventure you will help us to reach one million more young people by 2021. Giving them the same opportunity to go beyond their comfort zone and equip them with skills for life. You might get wet, you might feel tired; but as you reach base camp you’ll have a feeling of achievement that you just can’t buy and the chance to spin some yarns over a beverage and a campfire.
If you need some further encouragement, then take a look at this Forbes article on Overcoming Fear: 10 Ways To Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, no 10 is my favourite.
Encourage another Muttoneer or friend to join you and we can get a Flock together for the event. You can take advantage of the discount code Flock20 to get 20% off the cost of the adventure before 30th June. You can get 2 for 1 using the code DOFEPLUS. Send an email to info @ themuttonclub.com to let us know you’re joining the DofE Mutton Club Flock 🙂
If you can’t make DofE Adventure, look at our DofE Challenge.
“My name is Kirsty Weyman (47) and I’m a Youth Worker for Conwy Youth Service. I have recently taken over as the Leader at 3 Open Award Centres run by Conwy Youth Service. In an effort to inspire our participants and show them that I do know what I’m talking about, I thought I’d sign up for the 2 day, 50km, self navigated option. I’ve taken part in several long distance walking events over the past few years – Excalibur, Race for the Stones and Trailwalker, raising money for a variety of very worthy causes. But this year I’m managing to combine some thing I love doing with raising money for a charity/organisation I’m passionate about.
I’m still in the planning stage of my ‘serious’ training. However living on the edge of Snowdonia I’ve no shortage of amazing places to choose from for my training walks. Bring on the Adventure – I can’t wait!!!”
Who you will be supporting on their “DofE Adventure”
Any young person can take part, regardless of barriers. It is a truly democratic opportunity in an often unequal world. When you don’t know you ‘ matter’, when you hadn’t realised what you are capable of, the effect is truly transformational.
Schools like King Solomon Academy
This is a prime example of the type of school we need to give extra support. King Solomon Academy is a secondary inner city London school predominantly serving the council estates in the immediate area.
The percentage of their pupils eligible for funding for free school meals means it is one of the poorest areas of the UK. The school started running the DofE in 2012 and now have 30 students working towards their Bronze and 21 at Gold.
For some of its students, the DofE is truly transformational. Take Ayman, who says that the only parts of London – let alone Britain – he knew were the streets around Edgware Road and his school.
Going to the Brecon Beacons for his DofE, he says: “I sat on the hillside, looking at the sky and the distances and felt, for the first time in my life, that I was really connected with the universe.”
The work of our Operations Officers– like Hayley
Hayley is a member of the DofE London team. We asked for her thoughts on the impact an Operations Officer can have, in a volatile youth service landscape.
“My job has two main strands: support schools running the DofE, and encouraging new schools to start.
“In an average week I visit 3 or 4 schools. I have been greeted at the school gate by a teacher apologising for the disruption as one of the pupils had set fire to the classroom. I have also sat and watched a teacher explain to a group of petrified students who had never been to the countryside before, what to do if they see cows.”
“But I also meet parents who are gushing with pride. I have worked with some young people for whom learning to pack a backpack is a struggle. But they do it. And they wouldn’t be able to if we were not able to provide the tailored and very specific support that their school needs from us.”
As a shy teenager, Kimberley found it difficult to talk to people and was quiet in social situations. She has completed her Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, and gone on an extraordinary journey with unforgettable experiences.
For the Residential section of her Gold Award, Kimberley volunteered with an organisation called CHICKS which provides respite care to disadvantaged children, giving them a countryside experience which they would otherwise not have and helping Kimberley to connect with young people in her community.
For Volunteering, she had the amazing opportunity to go to Ghana in Africa, having raised £10,000 with her DofE group through imaginative fundraising, which included swimming the length of the English Channel. Describing how the DofE has impacted her life, Kimberley said,
“I have grown in confidence and have really come out of my shell. The DofE inspired me so much it’s actually got me to university and to where I am now. I would encourage anyone to do the DofE to develop skills for the future”
Kathy O’Brien went from a sales role in the private sector to fund-raising for a charity in her late 40s. She now manages corporate partnerships at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, the world’s leading youth achievement award. During 2016, the organisation’s Diamond Jubilee year was celebrated with the Diamond Challenge for people of any age who want to push themselves and raise money at the same time. Kathy completed her own Diamond Challenge and is keen to encourage others to step outside their comfort zone.