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There are many ways for a youth to expand its horizons, building first the required level of self-confidence and then the needed skills, social, inter personal and competence based, that are needed to pursue meaningful and satisfactory careers.

Schools offer an ideal place for starting such journey but unfortunately too often the focus is just centered on traditional forms of learning and, with many learning institutions struggling to even deliver the basic, it is hardly surprising that investing on extracurricular activities, so important for building the right skills and attitudes of youth, remains a low priority.

Fortunately there are initiatives that can help change such scenario and one of the most amazing is the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award or simply the International Award, a global initiative that has reached over 1.3 million students from all over the world.

Ideated by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II back in 1956 as a way to promote positive challenges for the youth, the International Award is a self-driven, multilevel challenge where participants can choose among three different difficulty levels before undertaking a personalized journey of self-discovery focused on four key areas: a) physical recreation, b) skills development, c) community service, d) adventurous journey.

It is a great learning experience because each participant has the possibility to get a prestigious recognition by designing, planning actions by themselves, carrying them out in a self-paced fashion.

It is highly educational because only schools or social organizations are designed as “anchoring” institution, delivering the award locally, supporting and monitoring the efforts of participating youth, helping them throughout the personal development journey.

Involving local institutions also reinforces the local fabric, creating a strong network of likeminded organizations entirely devoted to the promotion of youth development.

Nepal is lucky to have a very dedicated and motivated team promoting and spreading the International Award with the goal of reaching out more and more schools and students, trying the best to make the program as accessible and as inclusive as possible, reaching out as many schools as possible.

Funding the program can be a challenge as the International Award is entirely run on not for profit basis by a global network headquartered in London.

Therefore schools or organizations interested in running it must contribute with a little fee though the Nepal team is really committed to reach out the most disadvantaged children.

Recent partnership agreements signed by the International Award with reputed organizations like  CWIN,  Olgapuri Village and Early Childhood Development Centre, will allow the participation and involvement of   vulnerable adolescents in the program and this determination towards making the award as inclusive as possible is praiseworthy.


You will not be surprised if volunteerism is a central element of the International Award not only because it is so important for youth to selflessly help and contribute in solving local problems but also because there is now increasing amount of evidence that effective leadership practices are based on positive values that volunteerism can help nourishing.

That’s why the International Award in Nepal is also very committed on creating a better enabling environment for the promotion of volunteerism, as a tool to change the society but also as a tool for self-improvement.

After a first very successful Adult Volunteering Conference last year, the International Award in Nepal is today organizing a second edition of the conference aimed at recognizing, celebrating the roles and contributions of volunteers across the nation while also helping gaining new perspectives and a new understanding on challenges and opportunities in the promotion of volunteerism in Nepal.

The event is a great learning opportunity for educators and practitioners involved in youth work and it is really worthy attending it.

The adult volunteer conference celebrates the spirit of volunteerism. It gives volunteers working with youth in Nepal an opportunity to engage with pertinent issues facing the youth of today and to engage and learn from each other” shares Astha Thapa, Chair of the international Award Nepal.

It is also a great networking forum. Chandrayan Shrestha, Immediate Past Chair of the Award in Nepal highlights that the conference is a real opportunity for networking and meet incredible fellow volunteers and practitioners that can learn from each.

Indeed with many interesting speakers and a rich schedule of trainings and workshop, the conference is a great space to talk and discuss about volunteerism and youth development in general.

(The conference will be run today, Sunday, 28th of June at Aloft Kathmandu, Thamel. A contribution of 350 NRS is asked to each participant that includes the lunch).

The Author is Co-Founder of ENGAGE, a local NGO partnering with youths with physical disabilities. You can contact him at

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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