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The role of recreation in promoting social inclusion

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Children’s lives are spent in three principal, and overlapping, contexts: home and family, school, and play and recreation.
Of these three, the latter has received the least research and policy attention. This is surprising, given that play and recreation are widely accepted as fundamental to the health, well-being, and social and physical development of children.

‘Good’ parents, communities, and schools ensure play and recreational opportunities for their children. When they are not so ‘good’, other problems often become so great in children’s lives that play and recreation tend to disappear from consideration. For example, a number of school boards in the United States have recently abandoned, or are considering abandoning, recess. This scheduled free play time for children is disappearing because administrators are concerned with safety and liability issues, and teachers and students face the time demands of more intensive classroom curricula. Parents with resources and knowledge about child development will ensure that their children receive play experiences, but there is no evidence of shared responsibility in this case.

In considering ‘the role of recreation in promoting social inclusion’, the benefits of participation are a clear starting point. However, such benefits are not automatic, and it is necessary to delineate the circumstances under which social inclusion might be promoted by recreation programmes. Part of the following analysis is based on the assumption that we must be sensitive to the barriers that preclude opportunities to be ‘socially included’.

Our goal is to define the terms under consideration; review the various contexts, including the barriers to participation, in which the relationship between social inclusion and physical recreation is being considered; and review research on the conditions under which social inclusion might be promoted by physical recreation.

We conclude with several specific recommendations for the development of recreation programs to promote social inclusion.



 editors comments   

Editor's comments - [  This paper is part of the Laidlaw Foundation’s Working Paper Series, Perspectives on Social Inclusion. The full papers (in English only) and the summaries in French and English can be downloaded from the Laidlaw Foundation’s web site at under Children’s Agenda/ Working Paper Series on Social Inclusion. Coakley and Donnelly should be familiar to students studying the sociology of sport, although the author's interpretation of social inclusion leans rather more to the north american that the european interpretation, despite seating the definition in sociological context.]  Reference this?Cryer, J. (Year). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from In the text: Cryer (year)


APA reference for this document


Reference :   Donnelly, P. Coakley. J. (2002). The role of recreation in promoting social inclusion. Toronoto: The Laidlaw Foundation


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Download this file (wpsosi_2002_december_the-role-of-recreation.pdf)Donnelly & Coakley 2002Donnelly, P. Coakley. J. (2002). The role of recreation in promoting social inclusion. Toronoto: The Laidlaw Foundation
Last Updated on Sunday, 23 September 2012 13:11  

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