Tackling the Thames To ‘Change the Game not the Girl’

“I’m on the River Thames in a kayak right now, so I’ll ring you back later.”

It’s not something everyone can say to their mum at 11AM on a Wednesday, but when you work for The Change Foundation this type of phone conversation is no surprise. Together with nine other kayakers, I’m taking on the Thames Kayak Challenge to fundraise for The Change Foundation’s new ‘Change the Game not the Girl’ campaign.

‘Change the Game not the Girl’ works to tackle barriers that marginalised women and girls face in sport, by educating more coaches about inclusive sports.

“Remember that every stroke of your paddles is helping to change the lives of more young women and girls.”

The motivational cheer has come from from Harry; one of our three fantastic instructors and the owner of the London Kayak Company. His powerful words carry across the choppy waves and it makes everyone around me dig their oars into the water with even more determination. Having just paddled under the iconic Tower Bridge, there’s still another 1.5 hours to go, and our jelly baby supplies are already running low.

The combination of an upriver breeze, the strong Thames current and the surging waves from passing river ferries has meant that everyone has their work cut out. Despite the challenging conditions, everyone is determined to keep paddling, knowing the change we’re supporting by being out here.

Each kayaker is fundraising to meet their own individual target and so far everyone already raised over £3000 for the campaign. This incredible start to the campaign will allow our charity to begin designing the training programme that will educate more coaches how to make sports more inclusive, accessible and welcoming for marginalised young women.

This challenge is just the beginning of the fundraising journey for this new campaign. But like the ripple of waves, this is a movement that is set to catch on and we can’t wait to watch the ripples push through barriers that have prevented marginalised women and girls from accessing the life-changing power that sport has to offer.

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