Charlotte Rankin completed all three levels of her Duke of Edinburgh Awards, all whilst helping out some very special kids at Balwyn Leisure Centre. The Genazzano FJC graduate has been inspired to continue helping people in her community after finishing her Gold Award.

Hey Charlotte! Tell us about your work with disability teaching?

In 2009 I started my bronze award and at the time I was partaking in leisure gymnastics at Balwyn Leisure centre. I learnt that the centre offered classes for children with special needs and as my volunteer component I decided to apply for an assistant position with this particular class. I assisted with the ‘GoZone’ class for all three of my awards as I received so much joy through seeing all the children develop their skills not only physically through gymnastic but also socially. I grew as a person and developed connections with both the children and their parents. It was amazing to see all the children achieving new skills and advancing through the levels. A regular week usually involved me swim teaching during the week and then partaking in my gymnastics and volunteering on the weekends. I loved the components I chose for my award, which helped keep me motivated to pursue until I completed all three awards.

What was the biggest highlight?

The biggest highlight of my award was my residential project where I completed Big Camp, a weeklong community leadership camp for girls with the Lord Somers and Powerhouse organisation. This week change my perspective about how I saw myself by showing me both my strengths and weaknesses.

This week challenged me physically and emotionally and through doing so forged lifelong friendships.

This challenging week has given me opportunities to attend other camps and give back to the community.

I have become more passionate and involved in the Lord Somers and Powerhouse community and continue to volunteer three years after I was a participant one my first camp.

What was the greatest challenge?

Overall I can’t pick one that stood out but there were many hiccups and small challenges along the way that I had to overcome such as committing time in order to complete the gold award however the satisfaction of achieving Gold has definitely been worth it!

Why did you want to complete your Gold Award? What advice to you have for people undertaking theirs?

I wanted the satisfaction of knowing that I can accomplish and complete tasks that I set out to do. I also love a challenge and the award allows you to grow and develop as an individual who is determined, open-minded and skilled. The skills learnt through these awards are lifelong and the opportunities have helped me grow as a person.

My advice to anyone completing the award is make your award a challenge, don’t just do what is easy the more you challenge yourself the greater your accomplishments will be. You also have to enjoy what you are doing in order to get the most out of the award.

Charlotte is still a swimming teacher for both mainstream and special needs classes. She is extremely passionate about ensuring all children have the same opportunities to reach their full potential. Currently undertaking a nursing degree at ACU, Charlotte hopes to pursue a path working with special needs children and adults. She will celebrate her achievements at the Gold Award Gala on December 6th at Melbourne Town Hall.

Check out the event here.

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