Delta teens earn silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Three South Delta youths have been awarded the silver level Duke of Edinburgh's Award at a ceremony in downtown Vancouver.

From left: Hamsini Venkatramani

Three Delta youths can hold their heads high after being awarded the silver level Duke of Edinburgh’s Award last month.

On June 25, Judith Guichon, lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, presented Hamsini Venkatramani, Jamil Walji, and Coco Wang with the silver level Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at a ceremony in downtown Vancouver.

Venkatramani, Walji and Wang were among 44 recipients from across B.C. to earn the award which recognizes youth aged 14-24 who work actively over a six month period in the four sections of the award program: skill development, volunteering, physical activity and adventurous journeys in nature. The award is presented in the form of a lapel pin and a certificate. Recipients also earn two grade 11 High School credits for completing their silver award.

Since coming to Canada in 2014, Wang has earned both the bronze and silver level Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, the latter by learning to play the guitar(skill), helping an accounting company with tax returns and tutoring fellow students in science and English (volunteering), competing on her school’s tennis team (physical activity) and participating in a three day/two night canoeing and hiking trip to Pitt Lake (adventurous journey).

Wang, an international student from Shanghai, China who just completed grade eleven at Delta Secondary School, said she enrolled in the program on the advice of school counsellor, Heather Colls, in order to learn skills other than those taught in school.

“I’m from China and Chinese people focus on academic study. I wanted to improve my other skills [and] become a [more] rounded person,” Wang said. “I made new friends and learned how to communicate with people.”

“In the past year that she’s lived with us, Coco has really improved her English through this program and done a really good job of setting goals, setting challenges and setting herself up to achieve them,” said Mary Cossar, Wang’s homestay host. “It’s a big achievement for an international student to be able to do this.”

After completing the bronze level award with the Incentive Program at Our A.R. Macneill Secondary School in Richmond, Walji earned his silver award with the Ismaili Youth Group of Greater Vancouver by refereeing for South Delta Minor Hockey (skill); coaching with the Ladner Soccer Club (volunteering); playing a variety of sports including hockey, soccer and skiing (physical activity) and partici- pating in various outings with the Ismaili Extreme Adventure Group in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and on the Pitt River.

“[I did it] mainly just to try and accomplish something new, to go outside of my boundaries and to try different things and expand my horizons,” Walji said. “It’s really helped me as a student to manage my time and [I got] a lot of exposure to different people and a lot of contacts as well.”

Walji, who graduated last month from Delta Secondary and will be studying environmental engineering at the University of Northern British Columbia this fall, said he encourages other kids to participate in the program because in addition to developing new skills and meeting people, it will look good on resumés and university applications.

Venkatramani declined to be interviewed.