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ACCESS to Leisure: A project championing inclusive leisure for people with intellectual disabilities

Young woman with Down syndrome doing yoga in a sunlit room with a fellow classmate in the background, whilst wearing a rusty pink top, dark green yoga pants, silver and pearl earrings, and a high bun.

The inclusive leisure project developing a training package that enables adults with intellectual disabilities to be organisers of leisure.

Engaging with, and being involved in, your local community. Strengthening and developing vital social and life skills. Building inclusive social environments. These are all processes that are often driven by recreational activities. However, despite playing a large role in shaping one's well-being and social inclusion, there is a disparity in the accessibility of such leisure activities, especially for people with intellectual disabilities. This is where ACCESS to Leisure has stepped in: to help provide leisure that is tailored for - and lead by - people with intellectual disabilities

This international project seeks to make leisure more inclusive and accessible by developing and trialling a comprehensive training package. Through this, they aim to learn about the opportunities of inclusive leisure time, and, most importantly, to enable people with intellectual disabilities to spend their free time engaging in activities they actually enjoy, as well as to motivate others to do the same. 

Through developing a training package with their partners, ACCESS to Leisure strives to make adults with intellectual disabilities organisers of leisure, and for such activities to be aligned with their own and other people's time. People with intellectual disabilities will be directly involved in the project as facilitators, taking lead in creating leisure activities, with professionals and informal local supporters from their local community joining them as co-facilitators. The content of the leisure activities will be determined and structured with the help of digital tools, whilst also prioritising IT safety. 

With a bigger picture in mind, this project also aims to create a more active communal environment with their partner organisations, and to set a good example for other organisations around Europe in the same field. 

How it works 

The first phase of the project - which has already been completed - consists of collaborative and inclusive research. Here, the nature of inclusive leisure time is analysed, and the existing good practices of each partnering country is examined. From these research findings, ACCESS to Leisure will start to develop comprehensive training manuals and guiding material on the relevant topics. Such content will be discussed in inclusive research teams derived from partner organisations. 

In the second year of the project, three international training sessions, as well as pilot cycles and multiplier events in partner countries, will be organised. During this phase, the training package and its innovative, inclusive approach will be introduced to as many people as possible. 

As the goal of ACCESS to Leisure is to improve the quality of life of people with intellectual disabilities involved, this aspect will be continuously monitored and assessed throughout the project. 

Practical details 

Running from February 2022 to July 2024, ACCESS to Leisure is co-funded by the European Union's Erasmus+ programme, and is coordinated by the Hand in Hand Foundation (Hungary), with Atempo (Austria), Center Val (Slovenia), Hand in Hand (Hungary), HUBBIE (Belgium), and KVPS (Finland) as partners. This project is also supported by inclusive teams of all participating countries, which consist of professionals, informal local supporters and persons with disabilities. 

In addition to the English version, training materials and toolkits will also be made available in Finnish, Flemish, German, Hungarian and Slovenian. All content aimed at people with intellectual disabilities is produced in an easy-to-read format

To learn more about the project visit their webpage