“My Award journey started when I was in secondary school. One fateful day, during the general assembly, the principal announced that six persons will be representing the school at a government holiday boot camp and I was among those selected to attend. At the camp, we were taught life skills, survival skills and various sporting activities. I can remember I did a 10km hike. During the closing ceremony of the holiday boot camp, the Award framework (which was then known as National Youth Award Scheme) was introduced by the government officials. We were asked to sign up, if interested. I took up the challenge and signed up, although I was naïve and unsure of what I was getting myself into.

My first adventurous journey (AJ) took place in Port-Harcourt, at the Citizenship and Leadership Training Center, Aluu. We had participants from the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State. We walked through the swampy forest from Aluu to Omagwa. As a young teenager, I was having fun completing each section of the Bronze level, not realizing the huge impact the Award framework was making on me as a citizen of my country. At the end of the framework, I and other participants were decorated by the then Mayor of Port Harcourt and the Commissioner for the Ministry of Youth Development.

I signed up for the Silver Category, as I continued to improve on my fashion and decorating skills, the adventurous journey section availed me the opportunity to travel to sea school in Apapa, Lagos and mountain school in Jos, where I met other participants from different states and it was more fun because I got to learn new cultures and explored new environments. At the end of 12months, I was awarded a Silver badge and certificate by the then military governor Anthony Ukpo at the Rivers State Government House.

At Gold level, I had self-identity, became more courageous and resilient, and better equipped with life and leadership skills as I took up more leadership roles. Community service and volunteering also became my lifestyle. The Adventurous Journey was also one section I looked forward to because it availed me the opportunity of travelling to different parts of the country discovering sights and sounds, teamwork, planning and problem solving, networking with other participants. At the end of 18months, I was decorated with a medal by the then military Head of State, General Sani Abacha in Abuja.

Finally, I will say working to achieve the various levels of the Award played a greater part in my character formation, confidence with good values and positive outlook towards life. I also travelled to 18 states and made so many friends and met so many wonderful people through this journey, and I am still proud to be a part of The Duke of Edinburgh International Award also known as The International Award for Young People Nigeria.

 I encourage young people to consider joining the Award as it offers life changing opportunities.

Mrs. Lily Ibinye-Ibim Minimah (Nee Opusunju

Award Alumni, (Bio- Chemist and Business Entrepreneur)