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Fitzgerald, McTavish praised with Duke's silver

Duke of Edinburgh Award honoured two PK students

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 07, 2014 06:00 am

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There is royal silver shining on Katie Fitzgerald and Kaitlyn McTavish.

The two Paul Kane High School students were recently presented with silver awards from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program. They received their honours from Lt-Gov. Donald S. Ethell during a ceremony at Government House on Friday, April 25.

“This is a great way for young people to learn how to make a difference to themselves, their communities and to the world, on their own time and at their own pace,” explained Candace Denison, executive director of the Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut Division of the awards program.

“They discover how choosing, planning and achieving personal goals can change their lives.”

The international program challenges young people aged 14 to 25 to live their best lives by promoting volunteerism, healthy living and the active pursuit of personal goals. It was founded by His Royal Highness Prince Philip in 1956.

The awards recognize the participants who set and then meet a series of arduous challenges. Participants progress from bronze to silver to gold levels, all by participating and planning a three-day adventure and by spending a full year of learning a new skill, being physically active, and completing community service.

Achieving the gold level takes at least 18 months to accomplish, after the silver and bronze levels have been attained.

Fitzgerald is already well known as an active community volunteer whose efforts have extended to more than 40 organizations. She is a youth member of the St. Albert CIVC city council and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Youth Advisory Council.

She has attained a long and still growing string of accolades, including a Leader of Tomorrow Award, Women’s Day Award and was named the Young Achiever of the Year by the International Leadership Network. Only a few weeks before this presentation, she was given a Governor General's Caring Canadian Award.

The Duke of Edinburgh Awards stands out from the others in her estimation.

“It’s different from anything else I’ve done. It’s not just volunteering. It’s really cool! It encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and try things. It was fun to do.”

She noted she was still running full steam ahead to get her gold level award.

McTavish is a selfless servant to others in her own right. She teaches children to swim and ski, works at a lunch kitchen in Edmonton’s downtown, is on the PK students’ union, and volunteers through other school groups too. She also builds houses with mission teams in Mexico, a project that she looks forward to with much enthusiasm.

She was thrilled to get the honour.

“I’ve been in the award [program] for three years. Now, I’m working toward my gold! Each level is a little harder to do. You have to have more hours as a volunteer. You just do a longer period of time for the skill that you’ve been learning.”


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