Leisure education has two major goals: initiate and enhance lifelong learning. This is achieved by informing and educating people about leisure activities that are socially acceptable. The individual needs to be helped to gain a broader understanding of how, where, why and with whom particular activities and leisure interests can be pursued and developed. One way in which this is achieved is by helping the individual to learn better and functional ways of developing leisure behavior in such a way as to enable the person to adapt the environment to meet needs during free time.

This is an important skill for everyone but becomes especially so for people with disabilities. People have to be guided to which activities they can benefit from and helped to learn particular skills. For some people who have a disability this has to be addressed in a more specific way.

The activities revolving around leisure education focus on serious leisure rather than the casual type. In fact, the main feature of all education is its intentionality. It is delivered and acquired in a systematic way. On the same lines, serious leisure can be described as the systematic pursuit of deep satisfaction through an activity involving a hobby or a volunteer activity, were one needs not be professionally trained to carry it out. This activity should be one were those who pursue it find it so interesting that they launch themselves in the aim of acquiring and expressing its special skills and knowledge.

Such an interest in a leisure activity can be determining in a person’s life and make a difference between boredom and listlessness and enthusiasm. Sometimes people with disabilities, who may not be gainfully employed and may have a limited social life, need a structure to help them improve their quality of life. Through a structured approach leisure education helps one to embrace the idea of developing one self through leisure activities. Education in this sense becomes more interesting and is directly applied to impact the lives of people.

Inspire & Leisure Education

Through its programmes and services Inspire is aiming to implement the concept of serious leisure for people of all abilities but is dedicated to give free of charge services for all persons with disability. Our aim is to keep on providing these services for free, however the financial constraints that we are being faced with are great and support from all those interested and involved in helping us get our message through is vital.

It must be recognized that leisure education programmes for children (and adults) with disabilities contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of these people. The aim of Inspire is to try and implement a programme of effective leisure education for people with disabilities and other children and youths. By providing its services through its various activities and programmes, Inspire is trying to enhance the quality of life by increasing their level of interaction with others in such a way that they will be able to achieve self-support, be accepted and become involved members of society.

What is Inspire doing?

Inspire is promoting the introduction of models for developing sensory abilities, motor coordination and basic sports skills. These models tackle the development of serious leisure skills through a system of multi-dimensional leisure activities such as music, art, craft, drama, sport, nature-oriented activities, special events, information technology and other lifelong leisure activities.

Inspire is trying to develop children’s abilities to interact with peers through individual, group sports and games using special assistive equipment, such as the ones that are provided during go-carting, or the helping aides that are used in the gym and hydrotherapy pool.

Inspire is trying to assure continued community support through designing leisure programmes so that such activities can be enjoyed by people with all abilities, such as the use of the Iasis fitness centre, which provides the use of a hydrotherapy pool and use of gymnasium. In the near future there will also be the multi-sensory rooms and the use of computers and internet café’ with full accessibility for people with mobility and intellectual difficulties.

In Conclusion…

Enjoyment is a word which for most of us denotes having fun and pleasure. For Inspire enjoyment implies a considerable degree of psychological involvement, which captivates the attention of the person engaging in it and one that brings about positive feelings. All this can happen only by incorporating teaching strategies that involve the setting up of clear goals, the provision of relevant positive feedback and the posing of appropriate challenges to different skills and abilities.

Inspire has been the leader in offering leisure services to people with disabilities in Malta. For the past fifteen years Inspire has opened its doors to children, youths and adults alike to try and help in the best possible way, whilst promoting leisure as a much needed part of life which shows a society’s level of development and complexity.