By Bob Groeneveld/Langley Advance Times
Annika Lee has walked for water and run for Terry Fox.
She has served dinners to her community through her church, and she has served breakfasts at her school.
She’s a student with a goal… with many goals, in fact.
And one of her immediate goals is to start upgrading her silver “Duke of Ed” medal to gold.
In the meantime, she is helping her fellow students realize the fun and rewards of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards program.
Sixteen-year-old Lee lives in Murrayville and attends Langley Fundamental Middle and High School. She’s been part of Langley’s fundamental education program since kindergarten.
As a member of SWAG, Students With A Goal community and global initiatives program, she helped organize the school’s Terry Fox Run to raise money for cancer awareness and research.
Through the We Organization International, she put together a We Walk For Water awareness campaign.
Students walked around the school track carrying water jugs “for about an hour” to demonstrate how far millions of people have to walk to get clean water.
Lee is satisfied that she got her message across, “especially to the younger kids, that clean water is a necessity but not a resource that everyone has access to.”
She said some of the younger kids involved in the walk have told her that “they’ve considered their water use, and reduced their consumption.”
Add in her involvement in the school Breakfast Club, which provides students with free breakfasts, and the community dinner program at Grace Point Community Church, it’s clear that Lee easily filled the community service portion of the year-long four-point program that is the basis of The Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
She fulfilled the “skills development” portion by studying towards her Grade 8 piano level, and Polynesian dancing served both the skills development and physical recreation components.
For the final challenge, “an adventurous journey in nature,” Lee went kayaking.
The kayak trip was arduous, which she explains was the point of doing it.
“I really learned a lot about myself, and a lot about the outdoors,” she said.
“My family is not outdoorsy,” she said, explaining that she didn’t grow up with camping or similar activities. “The kayaking really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed it a lot.”
Indeed, she enjoyed earning her Duke of Edinburgh silver award so much that she’s already planning a longer journey, with more nights and more activities, for the gold medal.
Plus, she has started a new Duke of Ed club, and has “30 others coming through the program.” Some are now getting their bronze awards, and are planning to go on to silver.
Lee was one of 38 young people from across the province who received Silver Level Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards from B.C. Lt. General the Hon. Janet Austin in Victoria on May 25.
The “Duke of Ed” is a youth leadership and empowerment framework available to young people aged 14 to 24 years, regardless of background, circumstances, or abilities.
It recognizes that not all learning happens in the classroom, and that equipping young people for life means providing them with opportunities and supportive mentorship to explore their passions, abilities, and limits to discover who they are.