Young Nova Scotians who are challenging themselves and making a difference in their communities are being celebrated today, Oct. 16, with a flag raising at Province House as part of Duke Awareness Week. “In this day and age of instant communications and social media, it is very refreshing to see a program that promotes lifelong improvement and personal development and achievement,” said Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc, Honorary Patron of the Nova Scotia Division of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program. “Without question, the program is instrumental in developing responsible and contributing citizens and that is good for our communities, our province and Canada.” The week runs until Oct. 22 and encourages young people, program participants, leaders, board members, parents and volunteers to take part in theme days such as, Thank You Thursday, and Service Saturday. The events celebrate the launch of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program across the country and highlight the great work young Nova Scotians are doing in their communities. “Participants in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program strive to achieve personal goals in fitness, skill development and community service while building confidence and broadening their growth as active, responsible citizens,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Zach Churchill. “This is an opportunity to recognize students for the great work they are doing both inside and outside their classrooms.” The program promotes community and national development, while participants learn the life skills that lead to personal growth and achievement. More than 4,000 Nova Scotians, age 14 to 25, participate in the program each year. This is the 45th anniversary of the award in Nova Scotia. “I started volunteering through the Duke program. I always knew it was important, but now I really appreciate the value of giving back to others,” said André Aucoin, program participant. “Volunteering has become a necessity in my life. Whenever I see an opportunity, I jump right in!” André is 17-years-old and attends École du Carrefour in Dartmouth. He is a bronze and silver award achiever in the program and is working on his gold award. For more information, visit www.dukeofed.org/ns .