For many young Canadians, summer vacation means rest, relaxation and a break from the normal routine. Having some free time is also an opportunity to take on a new challenge.


Volunteering gives young people the chance to gain some real-life experience that can be beneficial down the road in the job market, and if they continue on to college or university.


“Many young Canadians are interested in volunteering or taking a more active role in their community, but don’t know where to start,” says Rick Ashbee, national executive director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.


The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award offers young people a balanced, non-competitive program of voluntary activities that encourages personal discovery and growth, self-reliance, perseverance, responsibility to themselves and service to their community. The program is open to all young Canadians between the ages of 14 and 25, regardless of circumstances or abilities.

“Participating in the award is unique since it gives participants the flexibility to choose volunteer activities that best suit their interests and abilities,” adds Ashbee “And, the criteria for achieving the bronze, silver and gold levels are based upon individual effort and personal improvement.”

Young people earn the award by achieving goals in four areas: Community service, skill development, physical recreation and an adventurous journey. To help increase the accessibility of the program, the TD Waterhouse Investing in Youth initiative provides funding for local field officers who introduce the award to communities and provide support to participants. Two of the specific areas of focus for Investing in Youth is encouraging inner-city youth and youth with disabilities to take part in the program.

More information on how to get involved in the award or the Investing in Youth initiative can be found online at