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The Finnish Model for Leisure Activities in Helsinki

Poika ja hulavanne

The Finnish model for leisure activities is a project by the Ministry of Education and Culture (Minedu) where the main objective is improving the well-being of children and young people. The aim is to offer leisure activities in connection with the school day that they enjoy and one that is free of charge.

The activity selection and offering are arranged at schools with the children’s and young people’s wishes in mind. According to pupil surveys, the most popular activities desired included parkour, climbing, cooking, film and animation, visual arts, game design and coding, and robotics and programming.

As such, the provision of opportunities and activity-related information is especially aimed at children who do not have hobbies. They are also supported in committing to a hobby. The work of their instructors is supported by means of topical training courses, for example. The activities organised in connection to the school day cater to children and young people who may normally have limited opportunities to try out different leisure activities and enable them to find paths to long-term hobbies.

The key principles of the Finnish model followed in Helsinki include:

  • Preventing social exclusion
  • Reducing inequality
  • Improving well-being
  • Empathy skills
  • Creativity and critical thinking
  • Supporting physical exercise
  • Alleviating loneliness; supporting friendships
  • Supporting families
  • Increasing skills, sense of achievement, strengthening the identity of children and young people.

Improving the opportunities and awareness of local leisure activities among children and young people is a joint wellness promotion goal for all City divisions in 2021. Its fulfilment will be observed as part of budgetary monitoring. 

Leisure activities free of charge in connection with the school day

Leisure activities will be offered in Helsinki for 3rd–9th graders at their own school or in its vicinity after the school day and before 17:00.  The leisure activities are intended for the pupils of the school in question. A limited number of pupils may be accepted into the activity groups based on advance registration. You need to register for the activity groups directly with the operators arranging the leisure activities. The participants will be covered by insurance for the duration of the activity.

The key aspect in designing the selection of activities was listening to the wishes of children and young people. School-specific activity favourites were charted by means such as a national school pupil survey. In Helsinki, children's and young people’s activity wishes included parkour, visual arts, cinema, animation, theatre, cooking, coding, game design, robotics and animal hobbies. These wishes were implemented in the trial phase of the model in spring 2021. Now, in the autumn, the selection will be supplemented with new activities such as football, basketball, circus, dancing, street art, media art, photography, history, literature, gym and martial arts.

Guardians and pupils will be notified of activities following the Finnish model via channels such as Wilma. Information about the leisure activities and how to sign up for them will be available on the schools’ own websites under ‘Our school / Club and hobby activities.’

The regional COVID-19 situation, current restrictions and health and safety instructions of the authorities will be taken into consideration when arranging activities following the Finnish model: Coronavirus updates from Helsinki

Become a Finnish model partner

The leisure activities following the Finnish model will be arranged in cooperation with associations and other operators. During the pilot season, the operating model will be planned, built and tested in cooperation with the operators providing the activities. The goal is to create brand new cooperation models between schools and activity providers.

Partners are being sought from among clubs, associations, companies and other actors that organise cultural or other leisure activities for children and young people. Future partners have been provided with access to market registration through the Hilma system for public procurement. The bidding will be arranged as a dynamic procurement procedure.

Sign up as a partner in the Finnish model for leisure activities and read further instructions here

Contact information

In Helsinki, the leisure activities under the Finnish model are coordinated by the Culture and Leisure Division together with the Childhood and Education Division.

Project Manager (City of Helsinki, Culture and Leisure)

Irma Sippola, tel. +358 (0)9 310 71640, +358 (0)41 512 1795,

Project coordinators by area (City of Helsinki, Childhood and Education)

Linnea Lindgård (South, West, Swedish-language schools, sports activities), tel. +358 (0)9 310 35022, +358 (0)40 835 8200,

Mirka Nokka (Centre, Northeast, North, culture and arts activities), tel. +358 (0)9 310 35165, +358 (0)40 682 6870,

Susan Demirtas (East, Southeast, Östersundom, digital activities and other hobbies), tel +358 (0)9 310 38170, +358 (0)40 682 6599,

The Finnish model in media

As of Monday, all comprehensive schools of Helsinki are providing free-of-charge leisure activities. 30.8.2021

Suomi tuo harrastukset kouluihin: "Tämä on maailman paras kerho". Sveriges Radio Finska 26.5.2021, interview (1:15:27)

Pannukakkua ja animaatioita – harrastukset tuovat sisältöä koululaisten iltapäiviin. news article 15.5.2021

HS Lasten uutiset kävi tutustumassa harrastamisen Suomen mallin harrastuksiin Yhtenäiskoulussa. News broadcast 16.5.2021

Höpsönä koirista  innokkaat koululaiset uuden eläinharrastuksen parissa. news article 3.5.2021

Harrastamisen Suomen mallin toiminta käynnistyy Helsingissä. news article 19.4.2021

Helsinkiläislapsille aletaan tarjota ilmaisia harrastuksia koulun jälkeen – Tavoitteena rauhoittaa illat perheiden ajaksi. Helsingin Sanomat 19.4.2021

Lapsille ja nuorille paljon uusia harrastusmahdollisuuksia, koulujen iltapäivät yhä monipuolisempia. news article 1.2.2021

Harrastuksista on tullut kalliita, menestykseen tähtääviä ja iso joukko lapsia jää niiden ulko­puolelle – Nyt ilmaiset ja lasten toivomat harrastukset tuodaan kouluun. Helsingin Sanomat 1.2.2021

Harrastuksista on tullut kalliita, menestykseen tähtääviä ja iso joukko lapsia jää niiden ulko­puolelle – Nyt ilmaiset ja lasten toivomat harrastukset tuodaan kouluun. Helsingin Sanomat 1.2.2021

Uusi kokeilu tuo maksuttomat harrastukset koulupäivän yhteyteen: "Tukevat perheiden yhdessäoloa iltaisin". City of Helsinki Project Manager Irma Sippola interviewed on MTV Uutiset Uutisaamu 19.1.2021

Helsinki is seeking partners for adopting the Finnish model for hobbies. STT Press release 18.1.2021

More information about the Finnish model (Minedu)

The Finnish model for leisure activities (video in Finnish, Finnish subtitles)

Information about the Finnish model and the pupil survey (Minedu)

Valtakunnallinen Koululaiskysely 2020 avataan uudelleen. Article by Minedu 19 February 2021

Kohti mallikasta toteutusta: Kokemuksia harrastamisen Suomen mallin pilotista ja eväitä kevään hakuun. Recording of a Minedu webinar 17 February 2021

Saarikko: Harrastamisen Suomen mallin seuraava vaihe liikkeelle. Minedu press release 4 February 2021
112 kuntaa pilotoi harrastamisen Suomen mallia – toiminnassa mukana yli 200 000 oppilasta. Minedu press release 13 January 2021

Municipalities invited to participate in pilot project of the Finnish model – nearly EUR 10 million available for children's and young people's leisure activities. Minedu press release 28 October 2020



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Photo: Maarit Hohteri / City of Helsinki