Grade 12 pupil at Kingswood Brandon Haschick was recently awarded his Gold President's Award after completing all the rigorous requirements of this advanced level of the programme. The President's Award for Youth Empowerment in South Africa is affiliated to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award through the network of the International Award Association, and operates in various forms in more than 120 countries, with 21 in Africa. In South Africa, the Award Programme first started out in Grahamstown as the Gold Shield Award in 1983 and 11 years later, in 1994, was relaunched as The President's Award for Youth Empowerment.
Brandon, who has also completed the Bronze and Silver levels of the award, had to undertake various activities in the categories of skill development, physical recreation, community service and an adventurous journey in order to qualify for his Gold Award. In the skills development section, he participated in the Bulls and Bears virtual stock market investment programme. "I learnt a lot about blue chip companies and really had to rely on my knowledge of the market", he said. But the toughest part of the award journey was the hike along the Fish River which Brandon says took place in "testing weather. It rained the whole time we were hiking. The President's Award really takes you outside your comfort zone!", he said of the wet excursion which qualified as his adventurous journey.
Brandon completed 72 hours of community service for the award, working at the Missionvale Care Centre and Aurora Rehabilitation Centre in PE as well as assisting with tuck shops at Kingswood College that were raising money for charity projects. "It's an eye-opener to see what you can do to help others and all the needs out there", he said. One of the highlights of his President's Award involvement was attending the youth forum which was visited by President Jacob Zuma in Grahamstown last year, and getting to ask the President a question.