Going for Gold: Duke of Edinburgh success for young parents
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
A group of young mums from the Gosport area now plan to go for gold after celebrating gaining their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze awards.
The five mums, aged between 16 and 25, are part of a group of ten who are undertaking the awards with support from staff from the DoE team at Hampshire County Council and support from the Haselbridge Children's Centre in Gosport where they all attend weekly sessions. To celebrate achieving their Bronze awards the mums held a presentation event at St Vincent's College and announced to invited guests that some of them now plan to go for Gold!
Over the last year they have undertaken a range of challenges including raising money for a local charity the Cleft Lip and Palette Association by selling handmade soft toys and other articles they made such as key rings, bibs and tie dye vests.
They also undertook Life Skills and physical challenges which included child development, first aid, cooking, CV Writing and interview skills as well as learning outdoor skills, self defence and Zumba. Topping off their challenges they undertook a two day overnight camping expedition in the New Forest which involved taking their young children, buggies and everything else needed to survive a night under canvas with them.
One of the young mums, Shelley Jackson, mum to toddler Mara-Jade and baby Elijah enjoyed the experience so much she is now training with support from DofE staff to be a DofE leader mentoring other award participants.
Shelley said: "It has been a brilliant experience. We met through the Stay and Play sessions at the Children's Centre and got talking about things we could do and DofE came up. At first we thought we'd never be able to do it but then Fiona, a DofE leader came down to talk to us, and we decided we'd give it a go!"
For all of them participating in the DofE award project has meant they have gained in confidence, self esteem and are ready to face new challenges in their lives. Two are about to start new jobs another plans to go to back to college to improve her qualifications and all welcomed the opportunity the programme had given them to make new friends, learn new skills and benefit from the physical challenges.
For Natasha Simmons, who lives in a flat with no garden, the walks and expedition in the New Forest gave her and her toddler Thomas the chance to camp for the first time and really enjoy being outside together. Natasha faced an additional challenge as she was 8 months pregnant when they undertook the camping expedition:"I think everyone was terrified I was going to go into labour but I was confident I wouldn't although I did take my hospital bag just in case!" she said. Just two weeks later though little Dylan did arrive and she would be happy to take both her children camping again in future.
For Natasha the best thing about doing the award has been meeting the other mums, working with them as a team and achieving something for herself and seeing Thomas enjoy the experience too. "It was great for him and it was great for me," she said.
Some of the group now want to undertake the 18 months of challenges to achieve the Gold Award and they will continue to be supported in this challenge by DofE leaders and the children's centre, which is run by Action for Children on behalf of Hampshire County Council.
The remaining 5 young mums from the group who also started the programme are working toward completion of their Bronze award in the next few months.
Congratulating the group Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council's Assistant Member for Education and a Gosport Borough Councillor, said: "I heartily congratulate these five mums and the other five who will doubtless soon complete their Bronze challenge. With hard work, commitment and the support of dedicated staff from the DoE award project and support from our Haselbridge Children's Centre they have been able to rise to the personal challenges which the award programme sets people.
"In conquering these challenges they have all obtained new skills, developed their confidence and self esteem leaving them well-placed to take on and tackle other challenges in their lives including gaining employment and going back to college.
"I wish them the very best of luck with those endeavours. It is also gratifying to see that they have enjoyed taking on the challenges together with their young children thus setting an excellent example to them of what can be achieved through personal effort."