Breaking Barriers programme

Our 'life skills' mentoring programme aims to enable motivated LYR rowers to flourish as they transition from school into the wider world. 

Since the successful pilot in 2014/15, Breaking Barriers has been available to Year 10 pupils at schools in Newham, Islingon, Tower Hamlets and Southwark who see rowing as a pathway to achieving their goals. In early 2017, students were also recruited from local Pupil Referral Units (PRU) and a specific pilot programme including PRU students was launched. 

The programme recognises that the soft skills required to be a successful rower, such as time management, communication and teamwork, are also necessary for success in the classroom and in the workplace. 

'It made me feel like it’s possible for me to break my fears. The fact that I was scared to go onto the water in the first lesson, but it didn’t make me scared the second lesson. It built up my strength and put down my fears,' Nosa, Walworth Academy.

Breaking Barriers links youth rowers with corporate mentors at weekly workshops in order to achieve valuable outcomes: 

  • Broaden aspirations: by providing exposure to different types of people, careers and industries
  • Develop life skills: through skills training, corporate mentoring and on-water activity
  • Provide future pathways: offer work experience, apprenticeship opportunities and links into further education

'Not only is it about rowing, but developing skills for everyday life. Breaking Barriers made me happy because I got to do things that other people my age didn’t get to do,' Emmanuel, St Michael’s College.

We use the 'MTQ48' online questionnaire to measure resilience and proven impacts for participants are increased confidence, control, commitment and an improved ability to cope with challenges, which are all signposts to future success. 

Watch how Breaking Barriers impacts the lives of our participants, in a close up look at a mentoring session with current partner, the Port of London Authority. 


We’re delighted to announce that LYR have gained a BT Supporters Club grant (via Comic Relief) to develop our mentoring programme. Year 12 students will engage 1-to-1 with their mentor, enabling 16-17 year old LYR rowers to set goals for whatever they’re aiming to do after leaving school/college, and support them towards achieving those goals.

Learn more about what it means to be a Breaking Barriers student, by getting to know 2015/16 participant, Zaid