In 1956, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh had a plan. He wanted to set up an awards program which would recognise adolescents and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement activities. The ultimate goal of the program being to help young people discover their full potential by finding their purpose, passion and place in the world.
To achieve this award, each young person would need to participate in a four part process. A process which revolves around physical recreation, skills, community service and participating in a team adventure in a new environment. All while under the guidance of award leaders, supervisors and accessors.
Today the Duke of Edinburgh Award has expanded to 144 countries with over 8 million young adults having participated in the past 55 plus years of its existence. And in Australia alone, the Duke of Edinburgh Award has seen over 775,000 young people participate.
Young people like 14 year olds, Niamh Williams and Hester Clark of Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School in Terranora, NSW.
For a period of three months, both Niamh and Hester have collectively worked 26 hours under the guidance of SBCG
Community Engagement Officer Di Gunther. In that time their activities and subsequent accomplishments have been numerous.
These activities and tasks involved garden projects including seeding and weeding along with general garden beautification projects. Projects such as designing murals for the garden white board and composting bins, installing and decorating the wooden frames around the garden’s worm farm baths and assisting garden member Hana
Smith decorate large bulk containers with colourful and engaging sunflower and bumble bee scenes.
Additionally, the two friends also designed a folder containing various seedlings that are distributed at community workshops so the recipients can see what the plant will look like once it matures. And at the Palmy Festival, Niamh
donated her time at the Children’s Workshop answering questions and assisting the ever inquisitive youngsters in preparing and taking home a decorated pot with their choice of seedling.
In the end, it’s simply safe to say, it’s been a very hands on few months for two very busy bees. All of which has been incredibly appreciated.
“The girls have been a credit to the youth of today,” says Gunther who adds such a positive experience will see her being
very proactive in inviting many more young people into the garden. “The artwork they have helped create has been happy and injects colour into the garden space and ignites the imagination of all ages…More families have joined since the girls have been involved and when asked why, they simply state they enjoy the welcoming feeling they get when walking around the garden.”
As for how two teenagers managed to find themselves in the SBCG garden in the first place, that can be largely attributed to Niamh’s mother, Fiona, who, as fate would have it, herself participated in The Duke of Edinburgh back in 1988-89 while in school in Ireland. (Fittingly, Niamh’s father, Paul, completed his program in 1984-85 in England).
Fiona says she was struggling to find a project to fulfil the community service portion of the award until a couple lunch break discussions with Di—the two are co-workers in the mental health department at Tweed Hospital– parted the clouds in what everyone seems to feel has been a very symbiotic working relationship.
“It’s been good to see how everyone at the garden works as a team to make projects come together,” says Hester.
And Niamh, “I now have a greater interest in doing planting and gardening projects at home,” before adding a sentiment both rising high schoolers share. “Thank you to Di, Hana and everyone else at the garden for making this such a positive experience.”
All of which is, no doubt, everything Prince Phillip could’ve hoped for.