Young people working towards their Duke of Edinburgh's Award (DofE) with the help of The Football League Trust's support were treated to an evening at Buckingham Palace on 7 July.
Participants from Burnley FC and Northampton Town met with HRH The Earl of Wessex and other DofE supporters to celebrate their achievements and talk about the DofE's impact on their lives.
DofE programmes are provided at three levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Participants achieve their award by completing a personal programme of activities which take in the following themes, helping people or the community, improving fitness, developing skills, going on expeditions and taking part in a residential activity (gold only).
The Clarets DofE project is coordinated by Jonathan Heys, the clubs DofE Award Manager. Over the past 12 months, 106 young people have achieved their DofE Award at Burnley. Since the project commenced in 2006, the club has worked with hundreds of young people, with some of their participants appearing on BBC's Match of The Day 2.
Without the support of the DofE's partner, The Football League Trust and the personal support of Barry Kilby, Chairman of Burnley FC, many of these young people would not have had this amazing opportunity.
Burnley FC was the first club to offer DofE programmes as part of their community scheme. Club Chairman Barry Kilby, said: "Burnley FC is a community club with strong community values. By offering the chance to do their DofE, we bring together young people from all areas and backgrounds, and give them something positive to work towards and a real focus in their lives.
"I firmly believe that the DofE shapes young people's lives and we will continue to grow the programme here at Burnley FC and built on its success."
Northampton Town have been working with a group of young people with special needs over the last two years. During this time the club has seen a dramatic change in the young people, one of whom was selected to speak to VIPs at St James's Palace about the impact that the DofE has had on his life, attitude and aspirations.
General Manager of The Football League Trust, Dave Edmundson said: "This exclusive relationship between the FLT and the DofE has already changed over a thousand young lives. Together we reach young people that other charities and development programmes are unable to engage.
"This powerful mix of football and this fantastic programme is one of the most successful ways to enrich and help young people develop and realise their true potential so that they can contribute so much to others and play such an important role in tomorrow's society."
Sarah Painton, a young person doing her DofE at Burnley FC explained what it meant to her: "As a supporter of Burnley, I was thrilled when I learnt that I could do my DofE at the club.
"It's been an amazing experience and helped build skills including team building and also my confidence. I will be completing my Gold in the summer and I would definitely recommend it to others."
Other activities undertaken by young people from Burnley FC and Northampton Town have included selling club branded merchandise to raise money for a shelter in Haiti, training to become football coaches, playing regular football and wheelchair expeditions.
The high quality of activities and support from Football League clubs has seen a high rate of completion and some amazing transformations in the young people they have engaged. This wouldn't be possible without the support from The Football League Trust and their fellow DofE supporters who were thanked personally by the Earl of Wessex.
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