by Lisa Harding
Jacinthe Morsani, the co-president
of the Applied Human Sciences (AHSC) Students Association, says that leisure
sciences are frequently misinterpreted. My friends think its
a joke they think its like basket-weaving.
How people spend their leisure time can have a serious effect on their
quality of life. Dr. Brenda Robertson, an associate professor of recreation
management at Acadia University, has been studying the importance of leisure
to youth for the last 20 years.
On Friday, she presented her latest study to about 50 students, alumni
and faculty of the AHSC
Department who were attending this years 14th annual Leisure
in the 21st Century Conference. Her six-week study compared 18-to-21-year-olds
in school and those in youth custody facilities in Nova Scotia. In particular,
she looked at how these young people thought about how they spend their
free time, and what they could learn about their own activities.
Six months after the program, 92 per cent of all participants had made
changes in their recreational habits. Most remember the study fondly and
were making healthier, safer leisure choices after its conclusion.
Robertson was surprised at
how similar both youth groups were. No matter how different their
backgrounds, their needs and outcomes are the same, she said.
The study hit close to home for Harold Jackson, a third-year AHSC student.
During the question-and-answer period that followed the presentation,
he told the group he identified with many of the tendencies youth in custody
had, including sports participation, vandalism and petty theft. Robertson
admitted that we all have these tendencies.
The key difference is that kids who ended up in jail generally didnt
feel connected to social institutions, including family, friends
and church, he said. Those who stopped their involvement in illegal activities
did so because they didnt want to disappoint or hurt someone
in their life.
She stressed the importance of providing safe and legal outlets for youth
to have fun, pointing out some cities in Nova Scotia had banned skateboarding.
If we dont provide youth with the opportunity to get [adrenaline]
rushes, theyll look for it somewhere else.
Morsani said that the students who attended the session have a strong
and sincere desire to help youth. Many participants said they could
be more successful if they were able to communicate with parents more
Jared MacSween, coordinator of Westmounts Teen Centre, was glad
he was there. I got a lot of ideas about how to change my programs
for the better, based on today.
The session also made the 30-year-old Concordia graduate think about the
young people he works with, as some come from halfway houses. I
need to make our centre more accessible to them.
Graduates of Concordias leisure sciences program generally find
employment in the development or management of recreational programs,
from government positions to community education to youth service agencies.
For more information, contact the Applied
Human Sciences Department at 848-3330 or 848-2260.