A TEENAGER with severe autism and learning difficulties overcame personal challenges to achieve a Duke of Edinburgh award.
Luke Spencer, 17, of Queen Street, Castleford, joined young people from across the district at Castleford Civic Centre last week to collect his bronze award certificate.
His proud mum Beverley Spencer said: “This was a massive achievement for Luke and I am so proud of him. Anyone who knew him a couple of years ago would never have thought he could have completed it – he’s done so well.”
Luke completed the award program with the help of staff from Wasdale Children’s Resource Centre – a place in Wakefield where he goes for respite care.
The program saw Luke and seven other children with learning difficulties – who have support from Wasdale Centre and Home Based Break Services – complete all the different aspects of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award.
Sue Moorhouse, manager at Wasdale Children’s Resource Centre, said: “During the program these young people experienced more independence than they were ever used to. They went camping and cooking outdoors – things most other people would take for granted.
“They learned new skills like gardening and painting and building things, and some of what they did was volunteer work that really made them feel like a valued member of the community. They were completely committed to it.
“I feel that it’s a huge achievement for their own personal development – they had to work hard for this. There is no difference in the program for disabled people, and nor should they be, but it just made it that bit more challenging for Luke and the others to achieve. They were brilliant.”
Luke, and other young people from Wasdale centre and across the district, were presented with their Duke of Edinburgh certificates at a ceremony last Thursday by Mayor of Wakefield Coun Tony Wallis.
Beverley said: “Luke completed his award in November last year so he had been waiting for quite a long time to be able to collect his certificate.
“On the day he was more concerned that it was the day he should have been having tea at his grandad’s house, it is part of his routine.
“It went really well though and he was pleased that he finally got his certificate. He got a badge too and he couldn’t wait to put it on – the badge really sealed it for him.”