Last weekend offered a last glimpse of what summer had brought. The weather was warm, and we got a degree of the sunshine we had through the summer months.
A large part of LYR’s work runs concurrently with the academic year. Active Row and our other school-based programmes all take part during the school term. So, some may wonder: what did LYR get up to over the summer break? Well, we have been very busy. Whilst the summer break offers us a chance to take stock, complete reports, repair boats, and many other administrative tasks – not very exciting, but vital to keep on top of. But Summer also offers us the opportunity to engage with projects that are close to the heart and ethos of LYR to complement our term time work. Below is a list of highlights from summer 2023.
Our Active Newham sessions offer free learn-to-row coaching for young people based in the borough of Newham during school holidays. It is an initiative designed to engage people who typically would not have the opportunity to learn to row due to awareness, costs or access; an ambition at the forefront of LYR’s focus. At the Royal Docks we had many different young people attend these sessions, some familiar and some new. In playboats equipped with floats to minimise capsizing, participants learned the basics whilst attached to a rope. Soon, they had progressed to no rope – no floats – stable single – fine single. Many have joined our open clubs and are engaging in our active paddle programme, training multiple times a week. From one free taster session offered, LYR has now became a significant part of their lives and a permanent fixture in their weeks. We’ve been running this programme with Active Newham for many years now, so keep an eye out for the chance to take part in future holidays.
Building on taster sessions led alongside the London Otters (an LGBTQ+ friendly rowing club) at METRO youth centres (a charity providing youth services to LGBT+ young people), in August we hosted a picnic at the Royal Docks for the young people of METRO. The aim of this was to provide the participants with a safe space to gain an access point into the world of rowing. We did a tour of the facilities, had a picnic, and took two trips in the cutter which the young people loved. The hope is that by recognising the opportunities on offer through our free-of-charge open & boat clubs, young people will join, potentially going on to become a member of the Otters when older. We hope to continue this partnership and continue breaking barriers and boosting inclusion to fully represent all the strands of the world in the sport.
Time To Help
Time to Help are a non-profit organisation who provide relief and assistance to people in any part of the world, particularly with hunger, poverty, hunger, and financial aid. In August we organised a day at the Olympic Park on paddleboards, bellboats, and skerries for a group of Turkish refugees, some as young as four. Some had limited English, and many had a fear of the water - having made the harrowing journey of crossing over rough waters in small boats - but with the right coaching and care all made it onto the water and went away smiling. Families came down together and parents were able to watch as their children were treated to a fantastic day.
TIED (Tackling Inactivity)
TIED is an initiative that aims to tackle inactivity in adults, removing barriers to make exercise as easy as possible, alongside working towards improving mental health and physical wellbeing. Supported through funding from Sport England, Coach Tilda has been working hard for the last year on this project and in August we had 30 members of the NHS from the North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) team come down to the Olympic Park. We have been working with this team to increase activity in their week using rowing machines at work and this away day was a perfect opportunity to further demonstrate the importance of activity and taking a break from work, physically and mentally.
The NELFT team went out in bell boats, skerries, paddle boards and kayaks. Most of the group had not been on water before. They had a great time learning new skills and working with their team in different ways. Although hesitant about the kayaks and paddle boards initially, they ended up being a group favourite with some using it as an opportunity to relax and float down the canal in the sun.
Our open clubs are all fully free of charge and run during term time and school holidays. We have multiple different groups who operate at the Royal Docks and Olympic Park. With sessions running during the day instead of after school during the summer, alongside participants who began on Active Newham sessions progressing into the open club, numbers increased hugely. Alongside this all members of our clubs were offered the chance to experience our Active Paddle programme, and kayak and paddleboard for the first time. Our open clubs provide young people a chance to stay involved outside the school term and act as a stepping-stone to more involved training as a member of LYR Club.
Waking up this morning to a sky of gloom, I thought ‘yep, summer is definitely over’! School kids have returned to uniform and LYR staff to a more normal sense of routine. There is plenty to be excited about, with the resumption of our Active Row programme in London, Leeds, Nottingham, and Kent. We also have the Alternative Provision programme, our Royal Docks and Olympic Park open clubs, and Performance Development Academy continuing. It will be satisfying to see those we engaged for the first time in summer continue along their journey with LYR; already many who began with Active Newham are now members of our term-time open club. It’s also exciting where connections made will lead, such as the Otters and Time to help. Most importantly, is the thought of all the separate points of impact we were able to make this summer, in areas we maybe wouldn’t be able to make during the academic year; the moments of eyes opening to new activities, fears beginning to be unlocked, discoveries of skills now realised, and memories of fun forged forever.
So yes, here at LYR, we were certainly busy over summer.