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Strength, Tenacity and Resilience – Nathan Carter

Nathan Carter completing his Outward Bound journey. Group of people on beach smiling and celebrating.

The Award empowers rangatahi to change their lives and realise their potential. 

Completing his Award through Helen Anderson Trust, Nathan Carter, a young autistic man from Canterbury, recently completed his Gold Residential section with his Outward Bound journey. A celebrated runner, he took his experience on the track into the sky and sea as part of his Horizons course. High ropes and a sailing adventure enabled him to push his boundaries and test his limits, and his experience at sea inspired his Adventurous Journey with Spirit of Adventure.

When Nathan began The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, he discovered he was capable of achieving a lot more than he ever thought possible. His mother, Bridget Carter has seen the positive affect on his self-confidence when he was introduced to experiences and opportunities he loved and had a lot of success with through his Award. In achieving his Award Nathan realised his Mauri Ora, his best self – and he is very clear he “want [s] to do it again please”. Bridget is very proud of her son for trying new things, which can be a challenge for him. “He is a lot more confident… He is very happy in his own skin”. Nathan’s biggest challenge is social interaction, noise, and crowds. His Award experiences could have been overwhelming, instead he flourished. His Outward-Bound instructor agrees, “Nathan arrived at Anakiwa apprehensive but excited to try the activities. He is a kind and endearing individual, who though [initially] nervous, soon relaxed around his watch-mates and staff”. 

The Helen Anderson Trust supports intellectually disabled people to participate in their community, and to reach their full potential. Through the adapted Award programme, the Trust have success resulting in enhanced independence, work experience, appreciation of the outdoors and interaction with others for their clients. Debbie Andrews, manager at the Trust, believes “the Award programme compliments our mission and… provides an opportunity for participants to grow… most importantly in their independence, confidence, and life skills”.

Regular dedication and commitment to orienteering, swimming, and cooking sessions with his mentors and coaches and assessors enabled Nathan to develop the all-important traits of self-determination and discipline which he is continuing to carry through into his life after finishing his Gold Award in his community. It has been inspiring to watch Nathan participate and to see how well others can collaborate so willingly with him. He is genuinely proud of the recognition of his achievements. Importantly the process of working toward The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has helped him to establish close social networks and friendships. The opportunity to participate in challenging adventures with people outside his immediate family has allowed him to grow in self- confidence and independence and has raised his own expectations of life for himself and our expectations of life for him.

The Award aims to redefine the impossible. Nathan’s mum agrees, saying each new achievement can be built on to help with other areas of development. “Think to the stars in terms of what he is capable of because nobody knows but him.”