‘Team Awesome’ are simply the most inspirational team of young people I have had the pleasure to know, train and be inspired by through their journey of the Duke of Edinburgh award. Their journey started in September 2016 when I was asked if it was possible to train and prepare a team to complete the Bronze award, They be a team of SEN students all of which have Autism of varying levels along with other needs and requirements . The simple answer was ‘when do I start?’ how hard could it possibly be… I have trained hundreds of students over the years to complete all levels of the award, mainly Gold so the challenge began….
Looking back at that day and the journey we then embarked on (both the students and myself were on the challenge of our lifetime) I am still so inspired by the determination and perseverance of all eight young people who had agreed to the challenge (well perhaps ever so slightly nudged towards it). I was personally on the steepest learning curve of my career, decades of training young people to complete expeditions in various locations around the UK and abroad, I really had no idea just how much I had to learn!
I soon learnt ‘bite size chunks’ or maybe even ‘micro bite size chunks’. Breaking down every skill to be learnt into easy to learn and digest moments. What could / would have taken an hour teach was now to be taught over a day or three! Take absolutely nothing for granted, just because they have seen a sleeping bag doesn’t mean they have used one or would know how too! (I learnt this during the practice expedition, when one the team suggested he was very cold in his tent. I really couldn’t understand as it was a warm summer night and they had 3-4 season sleeping bag. On further investigation he explained how he had put over him just like his duvet at home! So another amendment to future training, all students will be shown how to open a sleeping bag, get in the sleeping bag and then do up the sleeping bag! The plus side the students loved the sleeping bag races up and down the corridor).
meal planning for eight young people with very different tastes, needs and requirements set a whole new challenge in itself. But, wow what an amazing journey in which both the students and myself learnt so much. I also found the wonders of ‘flameless cookers’ what a truly awesome invention (I might write about these in another blog).
After many months of training, practice walks, tears, frustration and pure determination like I have never seen before they did it…the Bronze expedition was completed along with a range of skills, physical and volunteering at the local Mountain Rescue base. A truly awesome achievement and not a dry eye at the final presentation which the students were the main presenters.
What absolutely amazing achievement but even better than that their journey didn’t stop their… Sept 2017 saw the start of the next level of training for 5 of the 8 young people, so enthused by the achievement of the Bronze award and more determined than ever. The start of the Silver award, new challenges ahead.