From Bhangra to Beekeeping: The inspiring activities of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Rocket making, circus performing, mini-bus maintenance, magic, beekeeping, snail farming, pigeon breeding, carnivorous plant cultivation, reptile keeping and bhangra dancing.

Baljodh Singh, at his Bhangra dance class at Holly Lodge High School in Smethwick.  Photo Tom Pilston
Baljodh Singh, at his Bhangra dance class at Holly Lodge High School in Smethwick. Photo Tom Pilston

It's an unusual and unexpected list of activities – and ones chosen by young people for their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

The charity has revealed these are just some of hundreds of different activities that young people have undertaken as part of their DofE.

Baljodh Singh, from Birmingham, learned Bhangra dancing for his award and it has become a passion for him.

When he signed up for his DofE he wanted to learn new skills and challenge himself but found the awards gave him so much more, becoming the first step to a wealth of opportunities and helping him forge an unexpected link with his culture and country of birth.

When he moved to the UK 10 years ago, from India, Baljodh admits that, being shy and unable to speak English, he initially struggled to make friends and settle but DofE helped build his confidence and find his place in a new community while also staying connected to his heritage.

For his Bronze award, he volunteered at a local Punjabi class as a teaching assistant helping GCSE students.

He firmly believes understanding Punjabi is vital in ensuring young people maintain a link with their culture and religion and found his teaching so rewarding he continued supporting A-level students for his DofE Silver.

Baljodh admits that, before his DofE journey, he was focused on academics and was not particularly ‘sporty’ but the awards encouraged him try new pursuits, learning basketball and badminton for his Bronze Physical then attending the gym for his Silver.

While he enjoyed these new activities it was his Gold physical challenge that really ignited his passion when he signed up for Bhangra classes at school on Friday evenings.

Baljodh, currently studying pharmacy at Birmingham University, enjoyed Bhangra so much he went on to join a team, performing at weddings and festivals across the UK.

Initially inspired by his dad who danced competitively in his youth, Baljodh found learning moves based around the farming communities in India and dancing to Punjabi songs he’d known since childhood was another wonderful link to his place of birth.

Bajodjh says that Bhangra has built his confidence and he’s gone from being shy and nervous to performing in front of large audiences. He’s also learned team work, as individual dancers must work closely together to perform routines.

Ruth Marvel, CEO at DofE, said: “After all the disruption, dislocation and lost learning young people have experienced over the last 18 months, helping them to recover and rebuild is vital.

"During the pandemic we’ve seen how DofE has helped young people stay positive, active and connected and follow their passions, no matter how unusual.

"As we start the new school year, we want all young people to have the opportunities DofE offers, to explore who they are and discover their own unique talents.

“Our message is simple: you can follow your passions and find new ones through the DofE – and in doing so build the self-belief and resilience that will help you deal with whatever life throws your way.”

The charity is aiming to engage, inspire, and empower over one million young people through DofE over the next five years through its Youth Without Limits strategy.

Those interested in doing DofE can ask their school, college or university, join a national youth group such as the Scouts or Girlguiding or get in touch with their local youth club and see if it runs DofE, or visit DofE.org.

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