(In the Pic - President Zuma awards Micahela Mycroft the Gold Award while her mom Zelda looks on) President Jacob Zuma handed out awards to more than 100 hard working young people who have excelled in various fields as part of the President’s Awards for Youth Empowerment programme. The President, who is the Patron-in-Chief of the awards, was joined by His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward and his wife Princess Sophia, the Countess of Wessex in handing out the Western Cape Gold Awards. Prince Edward is the Chairman of the International Council of the Awards.The awards are hosted in conjunction with the Office of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. The Awards promote social cohesion and community service amongst young people as well as excellence in sports and endurance games. 10/10/2013, Table Bay Hotel, Waterfront, in Cape Town. Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

Exceptional young South Africans – including a convicted armed robber and a disabled children’s activist – received a gold medal from Jacob Zuma on Thursday at the 30th annual President’s Award for Youth Empowerment in Cape Town.

The award acknowledged 120 young people who have completed tasks in the areas of community service, sport, skills, an adventurous journey and a residential project.

Medals were presented by the president, with British royalty Prince Edward and Princess Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex, at the Table Bay Hotel.

Jason Coldicott, 25, joined the President’s Award Programme only because he had nothing else to do. He was serving a prison sentence for armed robbery, he was a drug addict, and he could see no future for himself.

Coldicott rewrote matric maths and is completing a BSc in computer sciences through Unisa while serving the remainder of his sentence.

Chaeli Mycroft’s mettle was tested when she completed the physical recreation requirement.

Chaeli was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. She completed the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, is planning a hike up Kilimanjaro and takes part in ballroom dancing competitions.

She started the Chaeli Campaign with her sister and friends to improve the lives of disabled children.

The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment is part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award which is presented in 144 countries, with 25 in Africa.

The duke’s son, Prince Edward, was present to congratulate South Africa’s winners.

“I hope it has inspired you to help many more young people in the future,” he said. “And when you leave this room, walk a few inches taller.”