CHECKERED FLAGS

Role of Meaningful Recreation

General Information

Sustained and challenging recreation plays a significant part in reinforcing RESILIENCE in vulnerable youth. It can;


  • cultivate positive relationships.
  • provide opportunities to build skills and strengths.

Tying recreation to school culture elicits buy-in from students who may be ambivalent or discouraged about their connection to the school community. While it is certainly true that schools cannot undertake, in addition to all their myriad responsibilities for students, to build and run recreation programs for them as well, it is worth linking vulnerable students with recreation and mentorship opportunities. Research consistently shows a positive correlation between positive recreation experiences, a student’s improved school performance, and increased RESILIENCE. (The National Arts and Youth Demonstration Project is one of many projects that have shown this link.)

  • When assessing students, make it part of routine practice to ask about their access to and participation in recreation opportunities.
  • Use knowledge of students’ strengths to help them consider recreation activities that play to their abilities.
  • Model and discuss the role recreation—both arts- and sports-based—plays in a healthy lifestyle.
  • Cultivate a school environment that invites recreation services and mentorship opportunities into the school community—use schools to promote and host recreation and mentorship opportunities.
  • Bring the topic of recreation into meetings with parents and caregivers and with community partners, and help overcome barriers to participation (e.g., travel, cost).
  • Make information regarding recreation subsidies easily available to parents and caregivers.
  • Consider school campaigns to celebrate the range of students’ recreation experiences.
  • Promote the benefits of participation in recreation within the school community.
  • Take the time to canvass children regarding their recreation interests.
  • Keep in mind that children benefit most when recreation experiences are sustained, skill-building, and supported by effective mentoring.
  • Find reasonable and sustainable options within the community. Many programs are low cost or free, and many are offered in the school or within walking distance of it.
  • If needed, access any available subsidies to support ongoing recreation for children.
  • Show interest in their accomplishments and support their continued participation, even if their interest temporarily wanes.
  • Offer recreation programs in schools where possible; this helps increase the chances of at-risk students being able to participate.
  • Foster sustained, skill-building opportunities for all participants.
  • Keep schools informed about the opportunities and resources that community partners can provide to help engage at-risk youth.
  • Make it affordable—negotiate the use of free spaces if possible, and encourage participant sharing of equipment and transportation.
  • Share information regarding subsidies with parents and caregivers to help ensure that children can stay involved.