A Duke of Edinburgh Award adventure to remember forever

A group of Yooralla customers from regional Victoria will receive The Duke of Edinburgh's International Silver Award after successfully conquering the last section of the award program – Adventurous Journey.

Supported by Yooralla staff and volunteers, Geordie, Kaity, Steph and Josh from Yooralla’s Benalla Community Hub, and Josh from Yooralla’s Wangaratta Community Hub, embarked on a two-day adventure to Melbourne last month as part of the program.

Graeme Brennan, Service Leader at Yooralla’s Benalla Hub, said the trip began with the customers catching a three-and-a-half hour train from Wangaratta to Melbourne.

“Once in Melbourne, the customers made their way to Yooralla’s Learning Hub, where they met up with our four volunteers from affiliated organisation Perpetual,” he said.

Steph, one of the customers, said the group then headed to the Melbourne Aquarium to learn about sea life.

“The volunteers were awesome fun and the aquarium was great. I loved the sharks! It’s really fun meeting new people from different towns too,” she said.

The group then navigated their way to the first accommodation for the trip, the Mantra Hotel in Southbank, where the volunteers supported the customers to make dinner.

Graeme said the following day the group was up early to meet with the volunteers again for the final adventure of the trip – an overnight stay at the Werribee Open Range Zoo.

“After travelling by train and taxi, we arrived at the zoo where we enjoyed a VIP bus tour of the safari park, which included a meet and greet with a special member of the zoo – a rhino!” said Debby.

Josh, who attends the Benalla Community Hub, said his favourite part about the zoo was seeing the lions up close.

“It was amazing, hearing them roar. We also got to pat the rhino. He was huge!” he said.

Debby Hammer, a Disability Support Worker who supported the customers during their Melbourne adventure, said after a long day of touring the zoo and meeting and patting various animals, including snakes and a tortoise, the group was shown to their glamping huts after enjoying a buffet style dinner, before retiring for the evening.

“After an early breakfast the next morning, the customers got to enjoy one more animal encounter. They were taken to a large enclosure next to a pond, where four huge hippos were enjoying their breakfast – all within two metres of the excited group!” said Debby.

Debbie said the customers’ Adventurous Journey was a real success.

“It was so great to see them doing activities that were so different and at times out of their comfort zone but they all worked really hard and it showed. We all had a really great time,” she said.

Josh, who attends the Wangaratta Community Hub, said that he will remember the adventure forever.

“This was a once in a lifetime experience and I really had such a great time with all my friends,” he said.

Yooralla partnered with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Victoria (the Award) in 2018 to create more opportunities for Yooralla’s young customers.

The Award is a youth development program designed to empower young Australians aged 14 to 24 to explore their full potential.

The Award is comprised of three levels. Each level is progressively more challenging and has four sections: Service, Physical recreation, Skills and Adventurous Journey.

The aim of Adventurous Journey is to provide participants with the opportunity to learn more about the wider environment and develop their self-confidence, teamwork and health.

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