Podcast: A River’s Power to Heal and Break Down Barriers


If you were plugged in this September, chances are you saw the amazing kayaking blind journey through the Grand Canyon.

Erik Weihenmayer and Lonnie Bedwell, who are both blind, navigated 277 miles of white water in what became a moving display of the power of the No Barriers Mindset.

Erik took the trip as a No Barriers pledge, in turn inspiring hundreds to pledge to overcome the barriers in their lives. Many of the pledges that came into us featured water-related activities.

Coincidence? We don’t think so.

From our experiences with the river in our No Barriers Youth expeditions, we know that the river is a special place that lends itself to the transformations our programs seek.

“In our fast paced world, students don’t normally have the opportunity to look inward,” said No Barriers Youth director Julie Dubin. “That can be a barrier that keeps them from reaching their potential. The river gives them the time to reflect, to unplug, and to live at a slower pace. When that happens, they not only connect with nature and with their team, but they connect with themselves and that’s healing and motivating in its own way.”

Kelly, an Arizona Raft Adventures guide who has helped on Erik and Lonnie’s journey and has lead several No Barriers Youth and Soldiers trips, said the river and the Grand Canyon set the stage for a change in mindset.

“For myself, my heart has been taken by the river,” she said. “One of the things we look for is breaking down barriers. And I think the river lends to that.”

We explore just what makes the river a great staging area for the No Barriers mindset in this 15-minute podcast.

Take The Pledge!