'Rather incredible' youth strike Gold
Bretton Kosick is no stranger to talking in front of a crowd.
From his early days at Southridge School, the confident student has claimed public speaking awards.
But the now-18-year-old couldn't help but feel a little nervous Wednesday evening, when he took the podium in front of nearly 500 people at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
It wasn't so much that the crowd one of the biggest he's ever addressed; the trick to that, he said, is to speak to "quadrants" of people. The nerves were more to do with a particular guest: Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
Johnston, along with other dignitaries, was on hand to present Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Awards, a distinction available to all those aged 14 to 25 years – but one only the most determined youth and young adults achieve.
Wednesday, Kosick was among 112 such individuals – and one of three from Southridge – who were congratulated for going the distance.
The invitation to thank Johnston on behalf of the recipients was an additional honour for Kosick.
Johnston was personable and went out of his way to make each recipient feel special, Kosick said afterwards, "but I still got a little nervous, speaking to the Governor General."
"He was very warm to all of us… motivating. Gave us all messages to carry on."
Southridge Grade 12s Soung-Jae Bong and Jae Won (Chris) Kim were also celebrated during the evening affair, as were Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary students Stephanie Blain and Kaite McKay. Zachary Dallas of the 6th Peace Arch Venturers, Benjamin George and Samuel Hung of Surrey's Skyhawk RCAC Squadron and White Rock's Stephanie Nowak, a former Southridge student, were also cited.
The Gold Award – the highest achievable in the Duke of Edinburgh program – was one Kosick had been working towards since deciding to take on the challenges in his Grade 8 year. Bronze and Silver awards are also available.
Each level requires participants to challenge themselves to higher degrees in four areas: community service, skills, physical recreation and adventurous journey.
A fifth area, requiring participants to be away from home with new people for at least five days, is an additional component of the Gold Award.
Those who sign on and complete each level – and particularly those achieving Gold – deserve praise, said Craig McCulloch, Lower Mainland field officer for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, BC & Yukon Division.
"They're rather incredible recipients," McCulloch said. "A lot of people are hundreds of hours past the requirements – they blow right past it."
The award program is active in approximately 130 countries. It came to Canada in 1963 and, in the decades since, B.C. has distinguished itself as one of this country's most active regions, McCulloch said.
McCulloch, who achieved the Gold Award himself about 20 years ago, knows firsthand what participating in the program can do for youth. For him, it helped guide his career.
On a resumé, "it's definitely a way to stand out," he added, noting that while anyone can achieve the levels, they cannot be achieved overnight. Each can take up to 18 months to complete.
"It requires a commitment. You can't wake up and do it in a weekend."
Kosick is confident his success in the program will serve him well.
"It just shows you're well-rounded and you're committed to a challenge and a goal," he said. "There's definitely dedication and discipline."
Kosick's mom, Barbara, said she wasn't surprised her son took the challenge to its highest level.
"He's very focused," she said. "He sets his mind to something, he makes sure it happens."
She described Wednesday's ceremony as one that made attendees feel "very Canadian and very proud."