Community Accessible Recreation launched

On 1 February 2021, the Accessible Recreation community went online. Initiator is Karin Stiksma of Joint Projects who has been enthusiastically working on the start-up of the community for over a year. And with success because in addition to many prominent parties from healthcare and leisure, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Bartiméus Fund, the Zonnebloem, the Disabled Child, HandicapNL and VNO-NCW/MKB NL financed the start-up.

Karin Stiksma has been mainly active in the public sector in her working life, after studying leisure sciences and an international master’s programme in European Leisure Studies. She has worked a lot with people with disabilities, but one and a half years ago she changed track to what she describes as ‘the sunny side of society’. In doing so, she wanted to combine her social-mindedness with her passion for leisure. She started to explore that combination and found out that a lot of steps can still be made to make the leisure sector accessible to all.

Hardly any policy attention to accessibility
When we think of accessibility, we immediately have an image of wheelchairs but Karin has a broader view: “I make a case for the broad spectrum of people with disabilities, whether physical, cognitive or sensory.” It is about broad accessibility; physical accessibility, information accessibility, social accessibility, financial accessibility and digital accessibility. Her first observation of the leisure sector around accessibility yielded a mixed picture: “I saw that a lot was happening but mostly ad hoc at project level, it was fragmented and often stuck at middle management level.”

She saw great initiatives and inspired people, but no place where entrepreneurs as well as experts by experience and experts from all kinds of fields could find each other. And if you looked at accessibility from the perspective of policymakers, there was no focus at all on leisure activities for people with disabilities. “All attention and money went to the primary necessities of life based around work, care and education,” Stiksma argues. “Recreation was seen as a luxury. My firm belief is that recreation is a necessity, especially for people with disabilities.”

Stiksma is a passionate lady with a mission: “I don’t believe that people with disabilities cannot enjoy recreation. I want to change that.” She has made a plan and set up her company Joint Projects accordingly. “I very much want to give something back to the world.”

Tackling accessibility at the highest level
Anyone who talks to the inspired Stiksma for a moment will soon realise that she is not talking about removing obstructions, fitting brackets or wide doors. She believes that accessibility should be tackled at the highest level: “In operations, you can do a lot, but ultimately the top of the organisation must also be open for it. Only then do you translate it into your entire operations.”



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