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A child holding crayons

Helsinki begins the operation of the Finnish model of hobbies

Helsinki begins the operation of the Finnish model of hobbies

The aim is to improve the wellbeing of children

As of Monday 19 April, Helsinki has begun the application of the Finnish model of hobbies: a youth-centred project organised by the Ministry of Education and Culture. On its website, the City of Helsinki explains that it has received a 1-million-euro grant to organise activities which are in accordance with this model.

What is the Finnish model of hobbies?

This is a model designed to improve the overall wellbeing of children and young people by encouraging them to engage in creative pastimes after school, on or near the school premises. The City of Helsinki reports that the thoughts and opinions of children were key to the creation of this project. Consulting children and young people revealed that the most popular hobbies included parkour, cooking, climbing, coding, art, game design, etc.

Project manager Irma Sippola commented on the importance of their perspective, noting: “Feedback from children and young people is extremely valuable to us. We also want to involve them in the development of operations so that we can strengthen the participation and equal hearing of children and young people.”

Combat loneliness and exclusion

Not surprisingly, young people have struggled immensely over the past year. Before the pandemic, children were accustomed to socialising and engaging in recreational activities. Now, a year after the outbreak of COVID, they have become lonely and anxious. The Finnish model of hobbies can help children overcome these feelings by allowing them to participate in exciting activities alongside others who share their interests.

The Regional Manager from the Youth Service in the field of culture and leisure Tiina Hörkkö explained that hobbies can help students form friendships. “According to the school health survey, we have far too many children who say they don’t have any friends. Hobbies, working together and succeeding are important ways to eliminate this experience.”

In addition to this, it must be noted that not all children have the same opportunities. This is due to many things, such as one’s financial situation or home life. The free hobby model eliminates exclusion, promotes equality, and gives children access to the same opportunities.

21 schools in Helsinki are involved in the pilot phase of this initiative to enhance the wellbeing of the youth. It is hoped that the Finnish model of hobbies will encourage children to participate in meaningful work where they will be taught new skills which will shape their identities and make them happier.

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