Why Life Skills?
Sport is one of the most powerful vehicles for personal growth. For many people who participated in sport at a young age, when reflecting on the skills we have today, often it is within the time we dedicated to sport where we find the genesis of our capabilities. Think of a job interview as a teenager where you were asked for an example of demonstrating a particular skill, and you may have thought back to a time in sport.
A commitment to developing life skills in young people is at the heart of what we do – we’re about much more than “just rowing”. We believe in the transferability of the power of sport and see the bigger picture than simply providing a space to row; these foundational years for our participants is the time where they will sow the seeds for success in future life. Our mission is to reduce the inequality that exists in our society through sport. By providing young people from disadvantaged and minority groups a space to develop these crucial skills, we directly reduce that inequality – as shown in our recent Active Row social impact study . This is why in the last few years we have worked with clear intent to underpin everything we do with life skills at the core. Through our innovative programmes, we empower our participants to develop critical skills that will help them succeed and thrive in future life.
The five key life skills we focus on are Leadership, Problem Solving, Staying Positive, Aiming High, and Teamwork. Our approach to nurturing these life skills is grounded in the Skills Builder Framework, which provides a structured and comprehensive foundation for assessing and tracking the progress of our young participants. During our first session with each group, the LYR coaches assess each student’s level of each skill. We continue to assess each half-term, monitoring the development made. Each term focuses on building sessions revolving around a specific skill - for example: from September to October half-term, we may focus on sessions relating to problem solving where through games, tasks, discussions, and workshops students develop their understanding and application for problem-solving.
Last year across all programmes, on average our students moved up 3 steps along the 16 step skillsbuilder scale. 92% of students increased in every skill across the year.
This coaching is aided additionally by the LYR Life Skills portal. This is an online resource devoted to life skills and career guidance from corporate partners. This information is then shared with the young people we work with to boost their development.
Life Skills Days.
This year-round learning is supplemented by our half-termly ‘Life Skills Days’. Each half-term, we invite several schools down on-site where we spend the entire day with a focus on two specific life skills. These days are supported typically by a corporate partner, who offer their insight on these skills in an alternative real-world setting. Workshops are delivered by the corporate teams and the LYR coaches, all centred on discussing and developing the chosen skills. Our most recent involved Gresham House, an alternative asset and investment managing firm, who led a Dragons Den themed activity, where students pitched sustainable business ideas. In the afternoons of these sessions the learnings and discussions from the morning are transferred onto the water, with LYR coaches leading the young people and corporate teams through life-skill specific on water activities. Through the last academic year, we ran six of these workshops across London, working with a total of 633 young people and 73 volunteers from our corporate partners: including Gresham House, Metropolitan Police, Tide Waves, Tideway, Softcat, and Native Land.
A Necessary Challenge
We are aware that we are working with the emerging generation. In analysing inequality that appears at adulthood, so much of it comes down to lack of opportunity during adolescence. Without those opportunities, it is extremely difficult to cultivate those key skills needed for future life on your own with the little you may have. In combating these conditions to create a more equal society, it is crucial to channel resources towards the development of life skills during these fantastic years for learning. The time and effort a society invests in creating competent young adults will become reflected in that society’s happiness. That is why we are proud to take on that challenge, proud of the progress we have made so far, and determined in our ambition to keep on developing life skills in those who will benefit most from having had the opportunity to develop them.