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BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

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One of the biggest challenges facing the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is the misconception that it is geared only for the elite in society, says operations manager Carla Alleyne.
 The DofE is an adventure programme for young people between the ages of 13 and 25 – one that Alleyne insisted was “open to all and everybody”.
She said they were pushing to get the programme either started or restarted in several schools.
For example, Alleyne said the scheme’s expedition panel, the people who supervised the programme, was made up of mostly St Leonard’s Boys’ alumni who went through the programme themselves.
“It is not elitist; it is not something that is for certain people and not others,” she said. “Everybody, once they are in the age range, can do the programme.”  
However, she admitted the most active schools so far were Harrison College and Queen’s College. Overall, there are ten schools in the programme with around 300 students involved.
Alleyne was speaking to the DAILY NATION during a service yesterday at the St Mary’s Anglican Church in the City, in commemoration of the DofE’s 50th anniversary.
International trustee Lord Paul Boateng was also in attendance and gave his views on the scheme in the region.
“The Caribbean is one of our oldest and well established schemes and we are looking to play an increasing role in youth development [as] the scheme has so much to offer youth in order to help them fulfill their potential,” he said.
Boating, who became Britain’s first black Cabinet Minister in 2002, added: “The scheme teaches self-reliance, community responsibility and more but the challenge for youth is to make the most out of themselves and I hope the award will play its part in the region, not only in schools but in the lives of at-risk youth.”  
The chairman of the board of trustees, Senator Trevor Carmichael, said the scheme was responsible for one of the most socially inclusive projects in Barbados.
“In 1983, Richard Goddard, Donald Clarke and I started what is now known as the National Trust hikes. Now, up to 500 people of all classes and kinds take part every week, both local and foreign.
“Also, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is one of the most successful programmes in the world in the reduction of youth recidivism so we are making every effort to bring this programme to Barbados as it is a model that works,” he said.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme involves activities in four categories: physical recreation, community service, skill and adventurous journey (mostly hiking). It is currently in 140 countries worldwide. (CA)

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