Inclusion Now 48

Sterre goes for gold

Disability accessibility and the Duke of Edinburgh Award – a young Disabled woman talks about her experiences

Sterre: I went to Buckingham Palace to see the Prince. I got my certificate and everyone clapped for me. I was happy.

Sterre has been working over the past two years for her Gold Duke of Edinburgh award. This award is great because you work towards targets that you set yourself, so you only measure yourself against yourself. Sterre put a lot of work in and was able to achieve her Gold Duke of Edinburgh before she turned 26.

Sterre: I went swimming with Ellen. We swam in the Olympic park. It was difficult. I swam really fast. I swam six lengths. I swam until my lips went blue!

For her physical section of the award Sterre had to do a sport regularly for six months, set targets and show improvement. She managed to swim whole lengths in the Olympic pool without stopping and achieved her 200m award without stopping to rest. She was timed each week and could see that she managed to swim faster.

Sterre: I worked at a Garden Centre. I watered the plants. I liked feeding the chickens and meeting people.

For her volunteer section Sterre had to volunteer every week for twelve months. Sterre worked at a garden centre. At first Sterre wasn’t used to getting her hands dirty, or to move around whilst holding the hose or watering can. Over the year Sterre improved these skills and was able to do it really independently.

Sterre: I went on a horseriding holiday. I did my level 1! My horse was called Fudge. I groomed the horse. I met lots of people.

For her Residential section Sterre had to go away from home for a week with people she didn’t know and learn a new skill. Sterre chose to go on a horseriding course in the Lake District. There she achieved her Horseriding RDA Level 1 and Horse Care Level 1. She was assessed on her riding and also naming all parts of the horse. She rode with a good seat through the Lake District and was able to go up and down steep parts of the hills without losing her balance.

Sterre: I did drama with Act Up! I did the lines from the script using signs. I taught all the people signs and all the people used signs in the show. I made poems for the show using signs.

For her Skills section Sterre had to set targets to develop her skills in some way over eighteen months. Sterre worked to improve her drama skills with her theatre company Act Up! Newham. Sterre got more involved in writing for shows – making poems using signs which involved all the actors in the choruses. She became so independent in signing long monologues on stage.

Sterre: I went walking in the forest. It was difficult. We slept in tents and we cooked. I met lots of people and made lots of friends. It made me happy.

For her Expedition section Sterre had to go on a practice expedition for two days and one night and an assessed expedition for four days and three nights. This was probably the most challenging section for Sterre as she had never done anything like this. She slept in a tent for a whole week, not allowed to go inside or she would fail! She cooked her own food on a gas fire and travelled 10 km with her group each day. She used a wheelchair only when really exhausted, walking much more than we had ever seen her walk. She always walked independently with the other group members rather than her PA. She had to mapread and answer questions for assessment throughout and did an assessed presentation at the end of the week.

Sterre: I liked the Duke of Edinburgh because I worked hard and got a certificate. I met lots of people and made friends and was happy. I was proud because everyone clapped for me. I had a big party and lots of people came to my house. All the people talked about me and said I was very good. All the people watched a film about it.

To see the Youtube video of Sterre’s Duke of Edinburgh Award go to

Sterre Ploeger and Hannah Facey