Christchurch youth becomes first prisoner to win Duke of Edinburgh Hillary gold award

A 20-year-old in the Young Offender's Unit of the Christchurch Men's Prison has become the first ever prisoner to be awarded the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary gold award.

The programme was introduced in to youth prisons a few years ago and will be rolled out to other prisons next year.

"Big step up in my life - I never thought I'd make Mum this proud," he said.

The youth was jailed on drug-related offences. Newshub can't mention his name, but the day he was awarded the Duke of Edinburgh award took two years to reach.

This internationally recognised award is no easy feat, aimed to push participants to their limits physically and mentally.

It was especially catered for within the prison grounds.

Instead of camping in the bush, they camped next door in a paddock, the marathon was 19 laps around the perimeter fence and four nights spent in an unfamiliar surrounding was inside the adult men's prison.

"Hardest thing was to let out the original me to be honest. It was mentally tough, more than physically - the marathon was easy," the offender said.

He is amongst 11 others who received bronze and silver awards at a special ceremony inside the prison.

The programme aims to ensure none of them end up back in the system.

"They're good kids just lost to the community. We are supportive - this is just a speed bump. Life's still young," a Corrections officer said.

Under lock and key 24 hours a day, the small group are setting the mark for what's possible.

The program was introduced to young offenders behind bars two years ago, it's proven so successful it's going to be rolled out in as many as seven mainstream prisons across the country next year.

"It's great to roll it out to other people in prisons and the more people we can help in this sort of way, then the better it is for the whole country," said Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis.

It's been given the seal of approval from those on the inside to help make a fresh start when they get on the outside.


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