By Community Correspondent Anjali Parshotam

Whilst juggling AS level exams, revision classes and their social lives, students across Hounslow prove that they are able to multi-task, as they are also preparing for their Duke of Edinburgh Silver award expedition.

For a period of 6 to 12 months, students have been working towards their award by completing the three sections of the award: physical, service and skill. The physical section involves students taking part in regular fitness activities outside of school so that they can improve their endurance and agility in preparation for the long walk (approximately 24km!) ahead. Students also have the opportunity to give back to the community by doing unpaid work in local schools, care homes or youth clubs in the service section of the award. Lastly, they must achieve a new skill such as learning a new language, map reading or knitting-the possibilities are endless!

Over the previous years of the scheme, students had to sign a log as proof of completing the 3 sections of the award, however, this year the scheme has a new format- an ‘e-login’, where students have to write weekly journals of their experiences in completing the 3 sections on their own internet journal. Although some students have taken a disliking to this new layout, many students have enjoyed expressing their opinions about giving back to the community. One student from Lampton School, Aman Nagra, currently completing her award added, “It is a bit of a chore to have to write a journal every week whilst trying to juggle school work and revision, but I think that this change in method is a change for good, now people can’t forge signatures as they have to prove that they are actually doing something to help make a difference in the borough.”

The award also requires students to complete a practise expedition; students from Lampton School visited Corfe Castle in order to train and equip themselves for the real walk in July. Despite the numerous amounts of steep hills that were en route to the finish line and the painful blisters that lined their feet, students agreed that the best part of the practise expedition were the uplifting views they had seen during their journey. One girl who was lucky enough to visit Corfe Castle, Sonia, explained, “I loved the villages we stumbled across whilst we were walking, they were so quiet compared to the busy city life we have here! Plus, the fresh air did me good too!”

Now, the students leave time aside to write up their route for the final expedition that will determine whether or not they will achieve the award. They have all been given maps in order for the students to write out a detailed route, pinpointing the different destinations and creating a easy-to-read guide to getting around the chosen place. Along with a map, they will have to create a menu that consists of a three healthy, square meals that will be able to provide the right amount of energy to survive a long, daily walk.

It’s going to be a tough ride ahead, but the memories and experiences gained from completing the award will be ones that will stay with the students for the rest of their lives- I wish them all the best!