Students leading children as part of Gryphons Abroad

Changing lives in Africa

In June Sport & Physical Activity’s Gryphons Aboard team travelled to South Africa to deliver a life changing sport and education programme to over a 100 primary school children.

The Gryphons Abroad programme began in 2016, as a partnership between the university and a local charity called the Bambisanani Partnership and the 2017 team consisted of three staff members and nine university students from a variety of different degree programmes and years of study from first year undergraduates to postgraduates.

Gryphon Aboard Mission Statement:

“To develop and deliver an innovative and sustainable student led programme that inspires and motivates change in young people and communities both in Leeds and South Africa through learning and leadership”.

Over two weeks the programme delivered two key projects;

Cycle to Success; teaching 22 primary school children to ride and maintain bikes, overcoming the barrier of the sometimes two hour, each way commute they have to school.
Here some of the children had never even ridden a bike before and the Gryphons Abroad team left in the knowledge they had delivered a set of life changing skills, giving the South African students a huge boost in confidence, especially for the female students who would not usually be given this opportunity in the culture they live in.

Inspire through Sport; the University of Leeds students planned and delivered four days of sports, leadership and classroom sessions to over 100 children from four local primary schools.
The South African students developed a range of skills throughout the week, increasing their confidence to lead on activities back in their own schools after the Leeds team had left. For example a number of student have now set up their own football and netball clubs for other students to enjoy.


A final part of the project was a visit to a local orphanage, supplying some key resources such as clothing and books as well as supplying funding to ensure the children have food for up to six weeks.

In the lead up to the 2017 trip the team raised over £26,000 to support project costs through various fundraising activities, £2000 of this money came from the Commercial and Campus Support Services Sustainability Steering Group buying 6 bikes and donating food and clothing to the orphanage.

A big thank you to Commercial and Campus Support Services staff and the University Sustainability Department who supported the project by donating money or time and resources. A massive thank you also goes out to all the staff in the Facilities Directorate who donated to the book drop in advance of the trip, all books having found a new and happy home.

The project is now entering its third year and plans are already in place to develop it further; taking a larger team of university student over and expanding the programme to teach an even greater number of South African children.

To view photos and to read more about Gryphons Aboard programme visit