All societies recognize the importance of leisure time activities in the psychological, cognitive, civic, vocational and physical development of young people. That is why most cultures have specified times when young people are let off from formal activities such as work or school in order to engage in various activities of their own preference. Productive leisure is fundamental for both personal as well as social development of young people.
Psychological benefits of leisure/recreation activities with people with disabilities are:
- Perceived sense of freedom, independence, and autonomy,
- Enhanced self-competence through improved sense of self-worth, self-reliance, and self-confidence,
- Better ability to socialize with others, including greater tolerance and understanding,
- Enriched capabilities for team membership,
- Heightened creative ability,
- Improved expressions of and reflection on personal spiritual ideals,
- Greater adaptability and resiliency,
- Better sense of humour,
- Enhanced perceived quality of life,
- More balanced competitiveness and a more positive outlook on life
Research (by Early Childhood Australia) confirms that leisure time is important in helping young people achieve a broad range of positive outcomes, such as (full analysis is available in attached needs analysis):
- Social/emotional development and engagement (build relationships, learn to resolve conflicts …)
- Vocational development and engagement (acquiring the functional and organizational skills necessary for employment, including an understanding of careers and options and the pathways to follow to reach these goals)
- Civic development and engagement (the growing recognition of one’s impact on one’s surroundings and responsibility to others, as well as the ability and opportunity to work collaboratively towards a common goal)
- Establish inclusive youth community by consolidating their leisure time as a positivist towards well-being, reduction of educational dropout and stable mental health
- Creation, approbation and exploitation of novel youth targeted results: Guide for youth workers and teachers on “How to build-up an Inclusive youth community?” – Methods, case studies, tips; Handbook with inclusive youth leisure and recreation activities for youth workers/leaders and teachers; Mobile application on inclusive leisure and recreation
- Organise leisure motivator workshops to stimulate human interaction, verbal interactive cooperation and improvement of 21st century’s skills (edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/)
- Establishing awareness campaigns which integrate the youth with disabilities into the society in the 4 countries (Bulgaria, Belgium, Austria and Serbia) towards youth organisations, but also families of youth with disabilities.
- Measuring impact of “PositiveLeisure4Youth” concept via piloting in Bulgaria, Belgium, Austria and Serbia with local youth organisations and deducing a successful implementation concept guide.
- Youth workers, youth leaders and youth NGO members
- Youth with and without disabilities (and their representative youth organisations)