DofE lists 25 character hacks for teenagers

Experience a digital detox and campaign for something you believe in are two of the activities on the list

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) has called on the Government to do more to help schools give teenagers opportunities to build confidence and has published a list of character-building activities to aid this.

This comes at a time when independent schools are highlighting the importance of character education, with Reigate Grammar School’s head Shaun Fenton saying last year that character makes more a difference in life than exam results.

To build the list, the DofE surveyed more than 4,000 people including education professionals, parents and young people.

The research showed, amongst other findings, that 52% of 14-18 year olds have never volunteered for their community, 43% have never campaigned for something they believed in and 72% of employers think school leavers are not equipped with the right skills to succeed in employment.

The DofE hopes the list will support teenagers’ positive mental health and wellbeing, and stand them in good stead for success in the workplace and beyond.


The full list of activities:

  1. Get work experience or a part-time job
  2. Spend time getting to know an older person
  3. Become a mentor to someone younger
  4. Volunteer for a charity
  5. Join a club for your hobby e.g. sports, gaming
  6. Go to a music festival or a gig
  7. Learn a foreign language
  8. Set yourself a personal physical challenge
  9. Learn first aid
  10. Learn to manage your own money
  11. Travel somewhere new
  12. Experience a digital detox
  13. Campaign for something you believe in
  14. Learn to cook
  15. Try vegetarianism or veganism
  16. Spend time in nature
  17. Carry out a random act of kindness
  18. Learn about your history
  19. Speak in public or in front of the school class
  20. Create a piece of art or music (with your voice or an instrument)
  21. Go dancing
  22. Dress for yourself, not others
  23. Engage in politics
  24. Learn about climate change
  25. Have a conversation with someone you’ve never met

Ruth Marvel, chief executive of the DofE, said: “The research shows us that many teenagers aren’t getting the chance to take part in activities that will help them build confidence, resilience and independence, despite teachers being keen to help them do so.

“The Experience List is an accessible, fun and inspirational tool to help young people identify, embrace and enjoy activities that will support them on their journey to adulthood.

“Many of the activities suggested by the public can be done as part of your DofE, and with 93% of DofE Award holders saying taking part in the DofE boosted their employability, it is a brilliant way for teenagers to build work-ready skills. Whether taking part in the DofE or not, all young people should have access to the kind of experiences on the list.”

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