In 2011, the UN proclaimed July 30th as International Day of Friendship to promote international understanding and respect for diversity. Like the Duke of Ed, the UN understands the importance of involving youth and future leaders in community activities aimed at inclusion and respect. The UN states that “friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.” Our strength always flows from our connections with others. Through friendship we learn the value of communication, and understand the gift that is empathy. Through friendship, we learn about others, and through others we learn about ourselves.
As we go through life, it becomes important to surround ourselves with kind and caring people who accept you for who you are, and who bring out the best in us. A friend should be the kind of person who you can depend on for comfort, love and support. A friend should be the kind of person who shares in your happiness and success. Many Award Participants confess that while the Duke of Ed may appear to be an individual endeavour, their ultimate triumph depended on those around them. These are the people who motivated them when they wanted to give up. These are the people they shared their laughter with, and their tears. These are the people who sympathized with their frustrations, and whose memories they share in. It is through these communal experiences that we can help to lift each other up with encouraging words when times get tough. Meaningful friendships are forged through successes, and solidified through failures. And most importantly, significant friendships are created when we open ourselves up to new experiences, and meaningful connections.