A Toronto Police Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) graduate had the honour of meeting Prince Harry at the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award ceremony at the Fairmont Royal York hotel on September 23.
It was a special
occasion for University of Ottawa second-year student Bibi Hakim, who holds him
in high esteem.
“That was one of the greatest moments in my life,” she said. “He is my role model because he champions mental-health initiatives and supports military families.”
Prince Harry was in Toronto last week for the Invictus Games that he launched three years ago.
Hakim was selected to address the Prince and other guests at the event, where 150 young people were presented with their Gold Awards.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got the invitation and I sent a few emails just to confirm,” the 2015 YIPI valedictorian pointed out.
Hakim was introduced to the program in Grade nine at North Albion Collegiate Institute by geography teacher Marty Munchinsky. He and Staff Sergeant Ron Boyce were among Hakim’s special guests at the event.
“Ron has been one of my biggest supports and someone I could always turn to for sound advice,” she said. “Before I want on a camping trip recently, I checked with him and he assured me it would be safe and everything would be alright.”
Boyce, assigned to 52 Division, was honoured to be invited.
“This young lady has come a long way since I met her,” he said. “She is so motivated, confident and assured of herself.”
Founded by Prince Philip in 1963, the Duke of Edinburgh International Award is a global program that challenges, empowers and recognizes youth between 14 and 24.
More than 500,000 Canadians have taken the challenge, which has bronze, silver and gold levels of the award.
“Each level brought new and exciting challenges,” said Hakim, pursuing political science and public administration studies. “Trying to overcome bullying in Grade nine, I made new friends, went camping for the first time and overcame shyness in the six months I spent at the bronze level. During my two years at the silver stage, I pushed my physical capabilities and made it on the ultimate Frisbee team. I also played volleyball and football. During the final gold stage, I tutored young children and taught them the importance of giving back to their communities.
“Every stage of the program, particularly gold, has made a significant impact on my personal growth. I went from not knowing what this program was, and being shy, to becoming a strong and independent young leader. Duke was my platform to discover myself and break boundaries.”