The President’s Award is a programme which seeks to encourage young people to chart their own path of self-discovery and growth. The four components of Sport, Community Service, an Expedition and Skills and Interests are designed to provide a balanced experience of life.
A number of Bridge House students have received bronze, silver and gold awards giving meaning to the words of the past Patron-in-Chief of The President’s Award, Nelson Mandela:
“My dear young people, I see light in your eyes, the energy of your bodies and the hope that is in your spirit. I know it is you, not I, who will make the future. It is you, not I, who will fix our wrongs and carry forward all that is right with the world.”
The President’s Award programme dove-tails with the Bridge House membership of the Round Square association as the origins of both organisations are grounded in the educational theory of Kurt Hahn. Kurt Hahn escaped from Nazi Germany and founded Gordonstoun School in Scotland. After the war he and others founded Outward Bound, The Duke of Edinburgh Award, Atlantic Colleges and the Round Square Association of Schools. The foundation of all these organisations was youth development through experiential learning. The Duke of Edinburgh Award was internationalised and South Africa participates under the banner of the International Award Association.
Today 120 countries (20 in Africa) run the Award under different titles. Over a hundred schools in South Africa participate in the Award as well as 65 correctional centres, 20 youth organisations (including Scouts) and 15 residential youth centres. Each homeroom teacher at Bridge House acts as an Award leader and mentors the participants through the Award. As the participants complete a section of the Award they are required to write up their accomplishments in a portfolio which is ultimately submitted for evaluation by the staff of the Presidents Award of South Africa. If the portfolio meets the requirements the participant is issued with a certificate and a badge and they may register for the next level. There are three levels to the Presidents Award: Bronze, Silver and Gold. In order to achieve Gold the participant is expected to perform 72 hours of community service, a year of sport, a year learning a new skill, a four-day expedition and a five-day residential project. Gold is quite an achievement but the programme starts in Grade 8 with the Bronze Award, giving the participants the chance to move from level to level.
“The Award programme seeks to provide a balanced, non-competitive framework for self-development which has shown itself to increase self-esteem and to increase young peoples’ capacity to achieve in whatever context they may find themselves. These qualities enable them to become responsible, active citizens within their communities.” Cameron Dugmore, former MEC: Western Cape Education.