The importance of having a goal to work towards during COVID-19

For Silver Award holder and Gold Award participant Jacob, lockdown in Quebec, Canada has made him appreciate the Award more than ever. He talks to us about how participating in the Award has helped him get through these challenging times.

Tell us about your Award journey – why did you decide to start your Award?           

I learned about the award through my school. The Award coordinator came to our school in Baie-Comeau and presented the Award to us. Two of my friends and I decided to take the challenge and embark on this journey. We spent the next year doing our Bronze level but sadly my friends moved the next year so did not pursue the Award through school. I continued and for the next two years, I did my Silver. I then went on a snowshoe trip in the Gaspésie region Adventurous Journey. Now I am doing my Gold level. Even through Covid-19, I do my best to keep my Award going. I practice my Taekwon-do every week and take care of my garden. I am now looking for my next step with my Voluntary Service hours.

What do you like about the Award?

I personally love the Award. It is a great way to get adolescents moving and discovering new hobbies. On my part, the Skills, Physical Recreation and Voluntary Service sections were pretty simple, because they were things I already did. So, this was a way to get reconnaissance. However, the best part is the Adventurous Journey. It is a great way to top off the Award journey. With my school board we always organize Adventurous Journey where many schools are involved. For me this is a great way to meet new people and make friends. My school is not very big, so this opportunity really helped see new thing and new people. Through these journeys, I also learned that I loved outdoor activities such as snowshoeing and kayaking. I love the Award for the challenge they give you. Both physically and mentally.

What do you find challenging about the Award?            

I personally find that the Adventurous Journey is the most challenging section. It demands self-discipline and perseverance. You need to be ready to train for at least two months before embarking on the Journey itself. It is also hard mentally. You have to push yourself to give it everything you’ve got and make it to the end. But once you have done it, you can be proud that you succeeded.

Jacob from Canada

What sort of challenges are you facing in your day-to-day life, as a result of COVID-19? How has this impacted you?

For many people, Covid-19 has been a difficult event to survive. I was not affected so much. I have been in quarantine for 2-3 months and have been doing online classes all this time. I did find it very sad that I would not be seeing my friends everyday as I used to and I would not be going back to school with them. But I tell myself, it was time for change. I did not lose my friends. We will just have to see each other at other times. I also was sad that I would not be working at the pool for the next couple of months. I loved my job, playing with the kids teaching them to swimming. And lastly, I will not be having a proper graduation this year. But throughout this I decided it was better to accept it and take it as a blessing. During COVID-19, I learnt lots of new things I normally wouldn’t have. I bake baguettes, cake and challah bread. I study physics and have been reading a lot on quantum mechanics. And I tried many new plants in my gardens, such as onions, garlic and beets. I think that even through all the bad that COVID-19 has brought, some good can be found: allowing me to pursue my Gold level.

Is the Award helping you to deal with any of these challenges? If so, how?

The Award has helped even without me realising it – until now! Through these difficult times, the best way to continue forward is to pursue a specific goal. Duke of Ed [the Award] was my goal. I would love to succeed at the Gold level. Duke of Ed has helped try and keep a normal life, even if everything around me is different.

Have you had to adapt your Award activities as a result of COVID-19? If so, how? Has anything remained the same?      

COVID-19 has led me to continue my Award differently. I used to be able to go to Taekwon-do class twice a week and practice in groups. But now I must adapt and practice at home, hoping I will be able to practice in groups soon. Fortunately, my Skills section did not have to be adapted. COVID-19 or not, my gardens will be growing all summer long.

Jacob from Canada

Are you using your Award (and particularly your Voluntary Service section) to help your community deal with the challenges of COVID-19? If so, how?

I have not, yet, gotten to the Voluntary Service section. Throughout classes it was quite difficult. Now that summer is beginning, I would love to go to our community help centre and give some of my time.

Do you think being involved with the Award helps you and your community at this time? If so, how?

The Award for sure helps me cross these difficult times. Since I have not started my Voluntary Service hours, I am not yet helping my community. However, I do know that the Award can help all the participants, giving them a goal and helping to keep a piece of normality.

Do you have any other comments or ideas you would like to share?

For all those trying to give their confinement a meaning, the Duke of Ed International Award can help. I am personally very happy that I decided to join the International Duke of Ed Award community.