Ten young men from the Christchurch Men’s Prison Youth Unit have been presented with Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary (DOEHA) Awards; two Gold, two Silver and six Bronze; by Christchurch City Councillor Anne Galloway and Award Chief Executive, Karen Ross.An adventurous journey.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award is a global framework for non-formal education which challenges young people to dream big, celebrate their achievements and make a difference in their world. The award helps young people find their place through developing transferable skills, increasing their fitness levels, cultivating a sense of adventure and volunteering in their community.

This was the third youth unit graduation and all together 30 youth have received these awards – 28 bronze, eight silver and three gold awards.  Broken into three levels, each award level requires participants to complete a personal programme of activities in five sections – Volunteering, Physical, Skills, Expedition and for Gold, a Residential component.

“It’s a popular programme in the Unit and a potentially life changing accomplishment for the young men involved,” says Youth Unit Principal Corrections Officer Gary Smallridge, “the graduates are justifiably proud of their achievement, the skills they have learned and the contribution they have made to the community.”

“In addition to what it means for the youth individually, it is really pleasing to see the New Zealand Parole Board acknowledging the work that goes into achieving a DOEIH award. Of the 30 young men who have received an award, 18 have been released or are on parole.”

Chris Allan of the Joshua Foundation, who delivers the programme at Christchurch Youth Unit, has worked with the Unit and DOEHA to develop an adapted programme that will fit within a prison environment.

Through the programme the men have also raised $200 for Te Whare Hauora, Christchurch Women’s Refuge, and gifted produce from the unit’s garden to community groups supporting vulnerable people in the community.

Councillor, Anne Galloway says she felt privileged and honoured to speak and present certificates to the Duke of Edinburgh award recipients.