Children and teenagers with disabilities are often unable to access mainstream play and leisure activities. This paper reports the results of two studies aimed at identifying ways of improving this. Study 1 was a postal survey of over 130 summer schemes and play and leisure facilities in the Greater Belfast area. This identified that around one-third schemes had experience of taking a child with some form of disabling condition. However the biggest obstacles to inclusion of these children were the lack of training; insufficient staff and resources.Study 2 was the evaluation of a model service aimed at supporting five mainstream summer schemes to enrol children with severe learning disabilities and complex needs, such as autism and multiple disabilities. This showed that such schemes are feasible with most children attending regularly and taking part in a range of activities. Family reactions were also positive as were those of the volunteer helpers and other people involved in the schemes. Few problems were reported but many benefits were cited especially for the other children attending the scheme. The study confirmed the importance of training, the use of dedicated volunteer helpers and the need for a co-ordinator to liaise with families and to support and advise summer scheme and centre staff.Strategies are discussed for making inclusive play and leisure opportunities more widely available.
|Journal||Child Care in Practice|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jul 2000|