Tuesday, December 01, 2020

An innovative Icelandic leisure card scheme that gives young people €350 each year to support their hobbies could be on its way to Roscommon

The Frístundakort or Leisurecard is credited with transforming, wellbeing and life outcomes for young people in Iceland and an effort is now underway to replicate it in Roscommon, Galway, and Mayo.

Parents from the three counties recently attended a webinar on the issue, which explained the benefits of the scheme.

“We are very excited about what this leisure card can offer young people here. In Iceland, every child from 6-18 receives an annual €350 credit to put towards supervised activities This can be sports, music drama or any of amount things, just as long as they are supervised,” said Emmet Major, Planet Youth, organisers of the webinar.

“This scheme has been a key component in the success of the Planet Youth primary prevention programme and is credited with improved health, wellbeing and life outcomes for a whole generation of young people.

Two speakers from Reykjavik – Gisli Arni Eggertsson and Dadi Rafnsson outlined how the scheme was set up and how it works. The webinar also discussed the steps needed to take to get something like this for our communities and children here in Roscommon, Galway, and Mayo.

Emmet Major believes the leisure card is the “jewel in the crown” that should be implemented as soon as possible, to accelerate the benefits. He is confident it will secure funding for a leisure card in its region and has been heartened by the political response, which includes the Minister of State for Disability, the Fianna Fáil Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte telling a recent webinar that she will be advocating for it.

“It has been transformative in Iceland,” Emmet says. “Taking part in regular, supervised, extracurricular activities is a protective factor for substance use behaviours and has many other significant benefits to young people and society at large.”

Planet Youth is a primary prevention initiative that aims to enhance young people’s health and wellbeing and assist them in achieving their full potential. Planet Youth has been operating in the counties of Roscommon, Galway and Mayo since 2018 and you can find more information at www.planetyouth.ie




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