Being familiar with the DofE, Tunde Folawiyo is probably aware that it has been in operation for several decades now; without a doubt, its enduring popularity is due in no small part to the flexibility which it offers, in terms of activity selection. Participants are given the opportunity to follow their passions, and delve deeper into the subjects that truly interest them.
For Christian Owen, a young deaf student, the lack of understanding regarding BSL (British Sign Language) was his biggest source of frustration. He decided to use his involvement in the DofE to do something about this; he wanted to make this language more accessible to the general public, and so chose to produce the world’s first ever manual for BSL.
Prior to this, the only options for those who wanted to learn BSL were to take formal lessons, or to use the standard BSL dictionary; whilst the latter is a very valuable resource, it is widely acknowledged as being a very complicated book for beginners to use. Christian hoped to provide a less daunting, self-help style manual, which would encourage people to learn the basics of BSL, and thus help to break down the barriers of communication between the non-hearing and hearing communities. His manual has been very well-received, so much so that Christian has continued on in his efforts to improve access to this language, by organising BSL lessons during after-school hours.
Kate McDevitt is another participant whose involvement in the DofE allowed her to discover where her interests lay. Despite suffering from severe health issues – she was born with hydrocephalus, a hole in her heart and three kidneys – Kate persevered with her Award activities.
Due to her own health problems, she was particularly passionate about the volunteering section. She chose to raise money for HAFAD and Children in Need – two charitable organisations which most people, including Tunde Folawiyo, will have heard of. She also ran campaigns relating to disability rights. A progression and training employee at HAFAD, named Esme Young, praised Kate for her determination and hard work. HAFAD (now known as Action on Disability), aims to create a fairer society, in which people with disabilities are afforded the same opportunities and rights as others. Based in West and Central London, this organisation not only campaigns for disabled people’s rights, but also provides such people with access to activities which enable them to live independently..
In addition to raising money for charities, Kate also undertook many other activities, including serving as an assistant in a nursery, hiking, swimming and sailing. Discussing her experience, Kate said that the programme had given her confidence, and shown her that she can achieve anything that she puts her mind to.
Folawiyo has been a supporter of the DofE for quite some time. More information about the Goodwill Ambassador Tunde Folawiyo is available online.