Finland’s new scheme of children’s leisure activities

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The Finnish model for leisure activities will bring children’s and young people’s leisure activities to the school day from the beginning of 2021.

Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture will carry out a pilot and is looking for municipalities interested in taking part in the pilot. The application period closes on 2 December. The amount of funding reserved for the pilot is EUR 9.5 million. Schools will be expected to select the leisure activities based on their pupils’ and students’ wishes. Municipalities can map out children’s and young people’s wishes using the Ministry’s survey for pupils and students or hear children and young people in other ways. The survey will be sent to schools this week.

The Finnish model aim to enable every child and young person to have a leisure activity in connection with the school day that they enjoy and one that is free of charge. The pilot is seeking municipalities that are prepared to set their leisure activities in motion in early 2021. The second application round will take place next spring and involves activities starting in the autumn.

The Finnish model focuses on hearing children about their wishes for leisure activities. Municipalities decide how they want to provide the activities based on children’s and young people’s wishes. The activities take place in the schools and in places near the schools. They may be organised by sports clubs, arts and cultural actors, youth organisations, municipal actors and other communities involved in children’s and young people’s leisure activities.

“Leisure activities have many positive effects on the wellbeing of children and young people. A meaningful leisure activity allows them to experience joy and success and helps them find friends. The positive effects that leisure activities bring carry through into adulthood. The Finnish model for leisure activities is designed to make sure that every child and young person has access to leisure activities no matter what their family background is and where they live,” says Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko.

The survey for pupils and students carried out by the Ministry of Education and Culture is now being conducted for the fourth time, and this year there are a record 62 different leisure activities from which children and young people can choose. The national results of the survey will be published towards the end of the year.

The Finnish model also includes a national leisure activities week in schools. This year, the week took place from 2 November to 6 November, when school children were able to try out leisure activities and, in particular, learn about various kinds of digital and remote leisure activities.

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