Kyle Edward-Salter, a third year combined honours political science and labour studies student, has been awarded the Duke of Edinburgh Award - one of Canada’s most prestigious youth leadership awards. He is one of only 8,012 recipients of this specific Gold level award in the program’s 56-year history.
Edward-Salter will be travelling to Ottawa on September 12 to officially receive the award from His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, KG, GCVO, SOM, ADC.
The award was founded in 1956 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke of Edinburgh Charity aims to empower youth ages 14-24 to become involved in the community, develop practical and social skills and be physically active. The award itself requires substantial commitment and perseverance to meet the necessary volunteer and fitness requirements. The program has three progressive levels that youth can work towards, which result in Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards.
Kyle began the program at age 14, initially focusing on attaining the Bronze level. Eventually he set his sights on the Gold Level award, which he completed at age 20. The Gold Level requires participants to commit to leading an expedition and developing a residential project, which will enrich the community in the long-term. These two components are on top of the already rigorous fitness and community service requirements.
Kyle was guided towards the Duke of Edinburgh program through his early involvement in the Air Cadets. Many of his community projects, including debating coaching, outdoor expedition trips and participation in the Around the Bay Race have involved other members of the Air Cadet squadron. But he was also quick to point out that the Duke of Edinburgh Award is open to all youth and could be an especially powerful way to harness youth leadership in universities and in urban areas such as Hamilton’s Downtown Core.
“Youth in cities really need this. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a huge personal achievement that is open to any and I would like to introduce it to as many people as possible“
Kyle was supported throughout the process by his mentor and coach, Captain Mike Lacombe. Cpt. Lacombe has known Kyle for several years through the Air Cadets Program.
Lacombe noted that in general, Duke of Edinburgh Award recipients typically stand out from the average young person in terms of their commitment to community service.
“Kyle in particular had 400-500 hours of service, well above the 100 required hours. And no one told him to do that…he just did.”
Lacombe, a former recipient and alumnus of the program described the excitement surrounding the upcoming awards ceremony. Kyle will be the second Hamiltonian, after Lacombe himself, to receive his award from a member of the royal family. Cpt. Lacombe received his award from HRH Prince Andrew while Kyle will receive his award from HRH Prince Edward.
Looking back upon his success in the program, Edward-Salter stated he wants to continue to be an ambassador for the award into the future. There is currently no Duke of Edinburgh program or affiliated clubs at McMaster but Edward-Salter remarked that this would be an interesting endeavor to begin. However, Kyle sees a greater demand in simply promoting the entire Canadian program, which is less established and does not have the same mainstream recognition in Canada than the initial program in the United Kingdom.