Karin Stiksma on her guest editorship of Leisure Studies theme issue Inclusivity

The theme for the latest edition of Leisure Studies is Inclusivity. Inclusion is a concept about which there is much to say. A complex concept. An issue that has many layers and nuances. A so-called wicked problem that can’t be solved instantly. And in which many participants from various disciplines play a role. The editors of Leisure Studies involved guest editor Karin Stiksma, initiator of the Accessible Recreation community, in this issue. She immediately responded enthusiastically with a resounding YES.

Why did you become guest editor?
Within the recreation sector, I am very active nationally and internationally in this field. I have a large network, a lot of knowledge, publish articles and I am a recognised speaker in this field. In doing so, I deal with the entire recreation sector. I don’t care whether you go to a museum, an amusement park, a campsite or a zoo. As long as you have fun! Nor do I focus on one type of disability but on everyone. After all, all people want to get out and enjoy themselves.

What does inclusion mean to you?
We talk about inclusion because there is exclusion in our society. We still exclude people and we discriminate. Inclusion is about everyone mattering and being allowed to participate. For me, that is an important value. I think it is important that everyone can participate, regardless of age, gender, background, disability or colour. Everyone should have the opportunity to use all forms of facilities, information and services. Also in leisure. So this means that as a society and therefore also as a leisure sector, we have to do something different from what we are doing now. Inclusion is about a transformation of the present, and looking together for what is needed so that everyone can participate and flourish. Inclusion is not about inviting others to participate on your terms.

Does that go beyond accessible recreation?
Definitely! Accessible Recreation is about services and facilities such as physical environment, transport, information, communication that enable people with special access needs, permanently or temporarily, to enjoy holidays and leisure without any specific barrier or problem. Inclusion is about a different value system, a different mindset. That is where it starts. From that fundamentally different basic attitude, we can design leisure facilities where it goes without saying that everyone can enjoy them carefree and obstruction-free.

What is the leisure sectors standpoint on inclusion?
We are at the beginning. Awareness is starting to emerge in the sector. But we still have a long way to go. There is still a lot of knowledge and skills missing to welcome everyone hospitably within the leisure venue. Employees are also still shy to offer help. Fortunately, there are many organisations that can help entrepreneurs with this.

How did you experience being a guest editor?
I found it inspiring. It was nice to work together with the various editorial board members from the Breda University of Applied Sciences, NHL Stenden, InHolland University of Applied Sciences and NRIT. From our own perspectives, we looked at the issue of diversity and inclusion together, and approached people from our own networks. That is truly the form of co-creation I believe in! I also do that with Joint Projects with recreation entrepreneurs; looking together with experts by experience and the entrepreneur at what can be done differently or better. The cooperation with the editors resulted in a colourful array of articles.

Still many knowledge gaps around leisure and inclusion?
Absolutely. For example, in the field of Universal Design or on how people with a visual impairment can also have a beautiful experience. But also the accessibility of technological innovations such as VR and AR. There are still huge steps to be made in the field of inclusive leisure!

Why should we read this edition of VTS?
It will inspire you… It will give you ideas… It will satisfy your hunger for knowledge about diversity and inclusive leisure… In short, many reasons to sit back and read the magazine. It contains wonderful articles, some that are more academic in nature to portraits of people who are key players in this field.

What article on leisure and inclusion remains to be written?
On inclusive LIVING. Often, all kinds of (technical) adaptations take centre stage but, above all, when you go out, it is about simply wanting to have fun with your friends, family, partner. And that you have an uninterrupted experience. Which is not disrupted because you have to go backwards, be taken out of the queue or have to make a transfer, for example. How can we ensure that everyone has an obstruction-free experience throughout the customer journey; from before it to after their visit. That is the challenge for the future!



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