Award achiever to promote access to countryside for people of all backgrounds


Seventeen-year-old Zainab worked towards her Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at the Warriner School

A Banbury teenager aims to promote people from all backgrounds being able to access the countryside as part of her new role as a Youth Ambassador for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE).

Seventeen-year-old Zainab Ahmed has been named as one of just 35 DofE Award holders from across the UK who will advocate for young people, by sharing their expertise on key issues impacting them.

The 16 to 24 -year-olds will make young people’s voices heard by speaking at events, meeting key decision-makers in Parliament and feeding into decisions to shape the direction of the DofE charity’s work.

Zainab completed her Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award through The Warriner School in Bloxham, but faced an unexpected challenge as she worked to complete the award.   Zainab said: “I was diagnosed with a heart condition part way through my Silver DofE Award, so it was touch and go whether I would get the chance to complete my Expedition section, which I was looking forward to the most.

“Thankfully, my doctor gave me the thumbs-up that I could still take part, and I was really happy and relieved to join my friends in the Dorset countryside. I had the best time seeing the most beautiful places.

“Growing up, I was never able to go hiking or camping, so I was extremely excited to take part in something so new and different. I then had open heart surgery after the Expedition, and now I want to do my Gold Award!”

As a Youth Ambassador, Zainab plans to ensure young people from all backgrounds have a chance to do their DofE.   She said: “Being from a minority group, I am very conscious that there are young people in the UK right now, who look like me but aren’t given the same opportunities as me. Hiking in the countryside is not always something that people in my community do, so I was thrilled to try something new through my DofE Award, and I want other young people to have the same opportunity I did.”

The Youth Ambassador programme puts young people front and centre as future leaders, involving them in shaping the DofE’s work to benefit other young people.

Ashley Williams, UK Youth Engagement Manager at The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: “Zainab is one of many young people who have achieved incredible things through their DofE. As a charity, we’re determined to put young people at the heart of everything we do and to connect them with opportunities to make a positive impact on the issues they care about – and we can’t wait to see what our new cohort of Youth Ambassadors achieve this year.

“As they navigate the ongoing after-effects of the pandemic and a severe cost-of-living crisis, it’s more vital than ever that all young people get access to opportunities like the DofE, which let them have fun, grow their resilience and self-belief, and develop vital skills they can’t always get in the classroom.”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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