Claire Poulin

Growing up in a remote community of Northern Ontario opportunities for student advancement were limited. Myself, along with a group of friends, registered for the Duke of Edinburgh International Award mostly as something to do with our spare time... we had no idea how it would influence our future.

I worked through the Award as an Independent participant - without a school or community group to guide me. This in itself taught me resilience and courage. It taught me to stand up for myself and to take on new experiences. I had to reach out to community members to act as assessors for my volunteer, skill, physical recreation and other sections. The Award allowed me to meet such wonderful friends that I never would have found without participating in these events. One instance is with the long-term care home where I regularly volunteered (playing the violin for the residents) for years in my hometown. I have included an image of how I modified this experience because of COVID-19, where I played in front of a microphone which has speakers inside the residence.

When I had completed the Award, I wanted to give back to the organization that had such as positive impression on my teenage years. I began as a volunteer Award Leader in the summer of 2020. Since then, I have become a Virtual Award Center Coordinator for 2 regions within Ontario. It is my privilege to offer the Award to youth across these regions, as I hope that I am able to be a supporting mentor to our participants, as well as the volunteers I oversee. If I can be the encouraging leader that even just one of our participants needs in their life, then it is all worth it! I love my job, my team, and the Duke of Edinburgh community, thank you for this opportunity to speak about this incredible experience for Canadian youth, as well as youth around the world!