Completing my Gold DofE Award
Xavier has mild cerebral palsy (CP) and is currently studying Social and Political Sciences at the University of York. He gained confidence by completing the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award alongside his studies.
As I write this blog, I hope this can encourage other disabled people to have confidence in their abilities despite what others believe.
During my time in education I have been used and told multiple times that I wouldn’t be able to do something that I wanted to achieve. Primarily, this has been driven by a sense that I would be physically incapable. This may have been due to a lack of understanding or a lack of faith in my own abilities. I have mild CP, which mainly causes a slight limp in left leg, yet I see this as my motivator rather than a barrier to my own success. I was told I wouldn’t be able to do my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. Even when completing the bronze and silver levels there were some doubts that I’d be able to do it. By gold, I was told by a member of staff that it would be better not doing the award at all.
You will be pleased to know I proved them wrong. It was not easy and there were many moments of self-doubt. However, I recently collected my Gold DofE award from Buckingham Palace having completed the final expedition the summer before. This was a great achievement for myself and something I was very proud of.
Adjustments can help
When putting necessary adjustments in place, tasks can become possible. I had to carry a lighter bag whilst doing the walking component of DofE, recognising the need for this adaption allowed to complete the task. This was despite some at the school not wanting to accommodate these changes at Gold level to make it work.
Confidence in your own abilities
Disabled people should have the confidence and motivation in believing that you can accomplish thing, indeed sometimes even better than non-disabled people. In completing my DofE at gold, I managed to do what many people without disabilities had failed to do, when they dropped out at Bronze or Silver as they felt it was too hard. So, the message is simple- in completing these activities, there is every chance you can do it better than those without impairments, again against what others have said.
What do I hope to achieve?
On a wider level, I want to finish university with the best possible degree and continue to involve myself as far as possible with all the opportunities on offer. I also want to be confident in challenging myself to complete things which I know will be difficult, but which I know I can accomplish to the best of my abilities. Finally, I want to continue to press for the importance of recognition of disabled people’s abilities.
This is a short article but I hope that, throughout, I’ve reinforced one simple message- with confidence, anything is possible.