Story by: NAJA BUTLER /Paul Robeson High School
Photography by: KRYSTAL FLOYD / Academy at Palumbo
Dwayne H. Adams, a 52- year- old man from North Philly with a vision disability, founded the Breaking Barriers Rowing Program in July 2005. This is a non-profit organization that Adams feels is a “good way” to get kids off the street.
Two things motivated Adams to start Breaking Barriers. One was when he went to Banyoles, Spain to compete as a rower and he was the only person of color. Another motivation was a tragic incident in Camden when three Latino kids who went to play in an abandoned lot were found dead in the trunk of an abandoned car.
Adams thinks he has made a big impact with the young people who come in and train with him. He says the kids can come in and make new friends. The rowers in Adams’ program have respect for one another, they receive discipline from instructors, they have a lot of teamwork, they train together, and they have an opportunity to travel around the world to different countries.
“This organization can do a lot for kids from ages 8-12,” said Adams.
Admission for Breaking Barriers is $20 per week per child.Activities in the Breaking Barriers program includes cross -training,
learning about nutrition, rowing, fencing, and swimming lessons. In September he expects to have three new schools participating in the program and two returning schools.
Adams gets donations and grants from sponsors. The program is located on North 9th Street near Poplar Street in North Philadelphia.
“Funding is always a problem, because you have to spend your time showing, people your vision,” said Adams. When he wants funding he has to make the sponsors understand what he does and how it benefits the people who he is trying to reach out to.
“Getting more publicity and press, showing more positive things, less negativity,” Adams said is an obstacle that he faces.
He was invited to open up his program in Harlem and bring a model of the program to and other parts of New York City. Adams also was invited to bring that same model to Cleveland, Ohio. Officials in both states offered to help with funding.
“It’s a shame that Philadelphia doesn’t see the same things that these other states see,” he said explaining that if he could tell area supporters anything he would say, “Donate, donate, I need money.”
Adams wants to educate the parents on how healthy their kids can be. Through the Breaking Barriers programs, he can improve children’s health, take them around the world, expose them to better people and improve his students’ job opportunities.
Adams wants to recruit a younger eager staff to help run Breaking Barriers.
Adams said “If Breaking Barriers was not my organization I would recommend it to anyone bring their kids here.”