Four girls are playing a board game together.

Finnish model for leisure activities requests for the next school year

In a hobby survey during the spring, Helsinki pupils get to influence the selection of hobbies for the next school year. The Finnish model for leisure activities already involves about 4,000 children and young people every school year. According to surveys, many children and young people with few hobbies have found new activities through the model.

Hearing the opinion of the children and young people is a key part of the Finnish model for leisure activities. Children and young people in Helsinki will soon get to list their hobby wishes for the next academic year. You can wish for a hobby that you have always dreamed of but have not been able to start because of the cost or long distances, for example. The hobbies may include, for example, climbing, cheerleading, street art, band activities or film-making. The most popular wishes will come true.

Primary school pupils in grades 2–5 complete the survey during weeks 14–16. Some schools also send the survey to the guardians through Wilma. The planning of secondary schools’ leisure activities will utilise the survey for young people’s participatory budgeting data from 28 March to 3 June 2022.

Up to 4,000 Helsinki students are already participating in the model

Many students have had their wishes fulfilled. Coordinated by the Culture and Leisure Division of the City of Helsinki, the Finnish model for leisure activities already involves about 4,000 children and young people every academic year. Since the start of the operation in spring 2021, free leisure activities have been offered to almost up to 10,000 pupils, counting in all operating periods.

The pupils can now choose their favourite hobby from over 30 different free of charge options. Each Helsinki school offers three different types of hobbies to choose from: sports, culture and digital or other. This is called a ‘three basket model’.
“Dividing the activities into three baskets ensures the most diverse offering of hobbies in schools. This way, we can promote equality and accessibility of hobbies,” says Irma Sippola, Project Manager of the City of Helsinki Youth Services.
The model has reached those with few hobbies

Feedback from pupils participating in the Finnish model for leisure activities in Helsinki has been very positive. A total of about 1,600 responded to the feedback surveys conducted in autumn 2021. Based on the answers, many children and young people with few hobbies have found new activities through the model.

The survey conducted in October indicated that one-fifth of the respondents did not have other hobbies. In the November survey, nearly one-third of the pupils said that the Finnish model for leisure activity was the only hobby they had. According to the surveys, the main reasons for starting a new hobby included interest in the activity, desire to learn new skills or try something new and encouragement by the parents. The range of hobbies was praised.

“The Finnish model for leisure activities has proven to be a good way to promote the opportunities for children and young people to engage in local, high-quality leisure activities,” says Tiina Hörkkö, Area Manager at the Helsinki Youth Service.

Low threshold activities also support school work and learning. “It is extremely important to consider the overall well-being of children and young people, even more so in these exceptional times. The Finnish model for leisure activities has increased well-being and brought joy and new stimuli to school days,” says Kimmo Mustonen, Area Manager at the City of Helsinki Basic Education.

The Finnish model for leisure activities is a project by the Ministry of Education and Culture (Minedu) to improve the well-being of children and young people. Helsinki is committed to building a permanent operating model for free of charge hobbies after the school day to bring continuity to the low-threshold leisure activities. All comprehensive schools in Helsinki offer leisure activities to pupils in grades 3–9 at the school premises or in the vicinity between the end of the school day and 17:00. In the spring term 2022, the operations were extended to state-owned, agreement-based and private schools. The range of activities and number of activity groups is constantly growing.


Contact persons

The Finnish Model for Leisure Activities in Helsinki

Area Manager, Youth Services
Tiina Hörkkö
City of Helsinki, Culture and Leisure Division
tel. +358 50 3026404
tiina.horkko@hel.fi

Area Manager, Basic Education
Kimmo Mustonen
City of Helsinki, Education Division
tel. +358 40 6603044
kimmo.mustonen@hel.fi

Project Manager, Youth Services
Irma Sippola
City of Helsinki, Culture and Leisure Division
tel. +358 41 5121795
irma.sippola@hel.fi


More information

The Finnish model for leisure activities in Helsinki on the Culture and Leisure Division’s website

nuorten.helsinki/suomenmalli

Information on activity groups and registration on the school websites under the section Our school/Club and hobby activities

Information on the Finnish model for leisure activities on the Ministry of Education and Culture’s website


Photo: Maarit Hohteri, City of Helsinki