Breaking the Barrier

Breaking the Barrier addresses the very real need for sporting opportunities that cater for children and young people with learning disabilities. It also gives the chance for family members to take part at the same time in a supportive and positive environment where no one is judged.


Learning disability is no barrier to sport


Breaking the Barrier has grown a lot over the years and has become a real family favourite. With each year that passes we learn more about how best to help people with learning disabilities and their families to take part. We have also grown our work in partnership with expert adventure sports providers and community sports organisations. Together we deliver activities, alongside our dedicated team of community volunteers.

The sports events we offer not only increase people’s well-being and physical health. They are also a chance for young people and their families to meet up and build friendships. Breaking the Barrier offers activities that our young people and their families tell us they want to do. We make it accessible, affordable, sociable and most importantly – fun!

Whilst Coronavirus has meant we cannot currently run our usual event calendar we will not let that us stop looking to the future and keeping active now. Read latest news to find out more about how to keep on Breaking the Barrier.


Last year over 300 people took part in Breaking the Barrier

Breaking the Barrier

Sports available

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Learning disability no barrier to surfing

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Breaking the Barrier was born in 2016 to introduce young people with learning disabilities to the joys of surfing. We wanted everyone to experience the thrill of catching a wave and perhaps even stand up on a surfboard. It has now become somewhat of a flagship event for Lifeworks.

Surfers are in very safe hands. Each person is supported by two people in the water, one being an experienced surf instructor from Discovery Surf School. Family members can also take part on the same day in other surf sessions.

The surf sessions are free, although we do need a refundable deposit to hold your place at the point of registration.

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Learning disability no barrier to cycling

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Cycling has proven to be a big hit with our families, especially for the opportunity it offers for sibling, mums, dads and carers to join in on the tracks.

Our events take place at Lex Leisure’s outdoor Velopark in Torbay on the first Saturday of the month for most of the year. We have a range of specialist cycles; tandems, trikes and recumbents make it possible for everyone in the family to have a go.

The cycling is enabled by experts at Freetrike Disability Cycling, our Extraordinary Young People and community volunteers. You will be well looked after and will have the opportunity to try out a range of cycles. You can either borrow a helmet or bring your own.

First, you will have the chance to try out your cycle in the practice area and when you are ready you can embark on the main tracks. There are three distance options at the Velopark which are:

  • 1.5km (whole track)
  • 1.0km
  • 0.5km

As well as the chance to cycle there is also a rest area by the side of the track with picnic tables. This gives you the chance to have a sit-down. It can also a really valuable time to speak to other families who are in the same boat as well as enjoy seeing your young person having an awesome time!

Trying the cycles on the practise area is free but there is a small charge to access the velopark.

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Learning disability no barrier to sailing

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Sailing is our newest event and we have decided to make it a fixture because of the accessibility and sense of freedom it gives to those on the water. Working with expert partners and the Royal Dart Yacht Club there is access to specialist boats and their very knowledgeable teams.

The Sailing takes place in the picturesque village of Kingswear in Devon with expert support on the boats from Dart Sailability. On offer are a variety of adapted boats, to enable most people to take part in sailing.

Dart Sailability’s advice:

  • Bring a waterproof, a hat and a change of clothes
  • Wear sensible shoes such as trainers, sailing boots or flat sandals
  • Disabled toilet and shower facilities are available
  • Life jackets are provided and help will be given for you to get into boats. Please bring an enabler with you if you need one.

The sessions are free and all equipment will be provided.

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Learning disability no barrier to swimming or running

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Lifeworks Extraordinary Young People are working with us to design new events for Breaking the Barrier – some of them want to share their passion for swimming and running with you.

Please get in touch and let us know if you are interested in joining these future sessions when they arrive.

How to book

Please get in touch with us to get booked onto Breaking the Barrier, 
or email [email protected]

Independent Event Evaluation

In 2018 Dr Kevin Burchell produced an insightful evaluation on the impact of Breaking the Barrier. Click below to read it.

Read the Evaluation

Lucy’s July Blog

Life After Lockdown

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All Different. All Equal

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What we love about Breaking the Barrier

Carlos's mum first came across Breaking the Barrier in the spring of 2017. We had moved to the area the year before. As soon as I saw surfing I thought

A Young Volunteer’s Lockdown Blog – Part II

May 2020

I was looking forward to watch Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam this year, but it has been cancelled due to COVID-19 and

1st Breaking the Barrier Challenge Complete!

Congratulations to the Jones family who not only completed two challenges for Breaking the Barrier 2020 but completely smashed their fundraising target!


Breaking the Barrier Challenge 2020

We are excited to bring you a new Breaking the Barrier Challenge taking place on Saturday 20 June during Learning Disability Awareness Week (17-23

Lockdown Jam Buddies – By Matt

Jam Buddies is a music group that usually takes place every week and is led by The

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CoronavirusDue to the social distancing measures of Coronavirus not all of Lifeworks services are running as they usually do.

Our residential services, Robins and Sesame, continue to run and have provided a safe home for the residents. Unfortunately, we have had to stop the short stay service at Robins for the time being. Our specialist College was closed for the Easter holidays but has now re-opened for a small number of students. Community Projects’ in-person services have been put on hold but the team have been very creative, launching Safe-Space a new online platform to provide a much-needed service to young people who are feeling isolated at home.

We are still working our way through these times where there is uncertainty and we are responding to guidance and instruction as information is sent to us. We look forward to the time when we can re-instate all of our services but the safety and wellbeing of our service users, families and staff is our top priority always.

Please continue to find out more about our services and get in touch with us to discuss them at any time. Email [email protected] or call 01803 840 744

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