Breaking the Barrier

Breaking the Barrier addresses the very real need for sporting opportunities that cater for children and young adults with learning disabilities to enjoy alongside their families.

For 10 years Lifeworks have been holding free, one-day surf events for learning disabled young people and their families at different locations around the country, hosted by a network of professional surf schools. Over that time we have facilitated over 1000 learning disabled young people age 8-25 and their families.

Thanks to investment from the AVIVA Community Fund and JLT in 2017 we have:

  • Hosted events this summer at Saunton Sands in North Devon, the Torbay Velopark, Bodmin in Cornwall and Bigbury-on-Sea, South Devon with a celebration event at Dartington Hall in the Autumn
  • Facilitated over 250 adventure sport activities for learning disabled young people
  • Enabled 130 mums, dads, siblings and carers to participate at the same time
  • Involved over 125 volunteers
  • Inspired over 65 Community Enablers
  • And most importantly this year’s event provided 42 learning disabled young people the opportunity to break a new barrier and participate in a new Triathlon adventure sport offer.

Paralympian Dave Hill welcomes Breaking the Barrier veteran Finley Webb as he cycles into this years celebration.

“Thank you for today and all the wonderful things you all do for the children. We are so pleased to have found you guys – T has had the best summer and he so looks forward to the next.” Parent 2017

Click here for the FULL Breaking the Barrier 2017 Picture Gallery

Click to see the Full Gallery.
Surfing 2017 - Triathlon Event
Velopark 2017 - Triathlon Event
Trampolining 2017 - Triathlon Event
Velopark 2017 - Triathlon Event
Surfing 2017 - Triathlon Event
Velopark 2017 - Triathlon Event
Surfing 2017 - Triathlon Even
Surfing 2017 - Triathlon Event
Surfing 2017 - Triathlon Event
Surfing 2017 - Triathlon Event
Click to see the Full Gallery.


Breaking the Barrier was created not to provide formal lessons, but rather to offer the thrill of experiencing surfing and where possible, standing on a surfboard as it catches a wave, with a specialist instructor riding in tandem.

“Our son loves the surfing events. He loves being on or in the water. The volunteers are always amazing. Thank you!”

To celebrate Breaking the Barriers 10 year anniversary and by popular demand we added two new sports to create a triathlon of events: Cycling, Trampolining and Surfing. Over 130 learning disabled young people participated in the events and 70 of those were presented with certificates by Paralympian triathlete David Hill at the Breaking the Barrier Celebration at Dartington  on Saturday 07 October 2017.

“Thank you everyone for your time and energy organising the cycling today – shame about the British weather!! He managed 101 laps and came home very pleased with himself!!”

“Thank you for a fab day, F had a fantastic time, so much so he hired a board and went back in on Sunday. All the staff and volunteers were amazing with him and he felt totally safe at all times. A truly amazing experience.”

This year over 125 volunteers have helped make it happen from Surfers Collectives (the Saunton Hotdoggers) to Community Samba Bands (Energia), from Corporate funders (JLT) who have been rolling up their sleeves every year for 5 years to volunteer on the events to public service professionals (NHS South Devon and Torbay & DCC) who this year exchanged suits for wetsuits and rash vests for the first time,  from mums braving the elements to fit lots and lots of buoyancy aids to cycling experts, the Velopark Veterans, who helped make our first ever cycle event ever run like clockwork, we want to say thank you to you all.

As Breaking the Barrier wraps up for 2017 a training offer and tool kit is in development to help local schools and community groups who support learning disabled children and young people to participate in adventure sport more easily.

We are also beginning to explore new partnerships to build the Breaking the Barrier offer for 2018

Watch this space for 2018 dates 

Or to find out more about how you can get involved please contact Sarah-Jane Lowson


Tel: 01803 861 060