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Leisure Time Of People With Down Syndrome - An European Picture


Asociația Langdon Down Oltenia Centrul Educațional Teodora, ALDO-CET coordinates the European project DS LEISURE, which is a training program to improve the quality of life of people with Down syndrome through inclusive leisure time.

The DS LEISURE program aims to train the competences in terms of attitudes, skills and knowledge of people with Down syndrome, their families, specialists and volunteers regarding the implementation of inclusive leisure activities.

During October 2017 - September 2019, the DS LEISURE project is implemented by an European Consortium, consisting of six partner organizations:

  • four NGOs working in the field of Down Syndrome as follows: ASOCIATIA LANGDON DOWN OLTENIA CENTRUL EDUCATIONAL TEODORA, ALDOCET, Romania; Associazione Italiana Persone Down Onlus, AIPD, Italy; Stichting Downkids international, DKI, the Netherlands; Down Sendromu Dernegi, DSD, Turkey.
  • two universities: The University of Craiova, Romania is participating as leisure expert and the Aristotelio Panepipstimio Thessalonikis, Greece as expert in the development of ICT Tools adapted to people with disabilities.

DS LEISURE is a project funded by the European Commission within the ERASMUS+ 2017 Programme.

The partners together with people with Down syndrome, their families, support and leisure sector professionals have designed, tested and validated a training package, a series of practical experiences and an online platform for implementing the training methodology.


The DS LEISURE training program is targeted towards people with intellectual disabilities who can perform leisure activities with or without support from the system. The program offers learning tools for leisure time planning and for the implementation of the personal plan designed.


Following the studies performed in each partner country, regarding the habits of people with Down syndrome to spend their leisure time, in which 883 people with Down syndrome participated, in three age categories: 11-14 years; 15-22 years old; over 23 years; several common conclusions in the five partner countries have been drawn:

  • Most of the people with Down syndrome in the analysis sample spend their leisure time at home or in activities organized by the associations to which they belong, together with their peers and professionals.
  • The people with Down syndrome in the analysis sample who have a habit of going in leisure environments are always accompanied either by operators in the organizations they belong to or by support people, and never just by friends.
  • Most of the people with Down syndrome in the analysis sample do not have the habit of going to concerts, theatre, cinema, exhibitions or library; do not organize anniversaries or parties in club/disco; do not go for picnics neither football/handball/volleyball matches; nor do they visit state, administrative and political institutions.


  • Each partner organized a workshop, in which adults with Down syndrome, parents, volunteers, support people, educational professionals and representatives of leisure environments participated.
  • The participants with Down syndrome analysed and voted the leisure time activities for which they chose to train and to experience.
  • As a result, the DS LEISURE Consortium designed the methodological guide for the training program and organized working sessions for its validation together with the same participants.
  • Based on the results obtained and the identified needs, the materials for training the skills required to designing and organizing the own leisure plan were produced.


The DS LEISURE consortium has designed and published four categories of intellectual outputs:

  • COMPENDIOUS – a synthetic presentation of the DS LEISURE training concept made through a summary of the goals, the contents of training and lessons, the teaching methods and competences pursued.
  • WORKBOOK FOR TRAINEES WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES - five lessons that invite the trainees:
    1. to think about leisure time activities, they want to experience;
    2. to design a personal leisure plan based on own choices and important support factors;
    3. to draw up the weekly schedule highlighting personal leisure time;
    4. to identify the steps required for carrying out a leisure activity and the support persons;
    5. to transform the personal plan into an activity plan; and to practice and present the activity plan.
      The learner self-evaluates his/her activity, answering with the help of icons to a series of questions.
  • SET OF GUIDELINES FOR PROFESSIONALS: support tools for leisureprofessionals and support people. A set of guides: methodological, train the trainer, trainers, learning by doing;practicing the experiential activities; as well as the evaluation forms.
  • E-LEARNING PLATFORM: -built in separate sections for learners and trainers or instructors. The online courses are based on electronic exercises, virtual scenarios and didactic information and can be accessed through direct registration.


The validation of the training materials was carried out in all the 5 partner countries, in three dimensions:

  1. Face to face through practical exercises and role play;
  2. Learning by doing in leisure environments of the main competences pursued: awareness of one's own person; social skills, assertivity, creativity and solving power, asking for help and using the system, ability to make choices, communication and guidance;
  3. E-learning through electronic games, virtual scenarios and online exercises for personal development, increasing self-awareness and independence, increasing confidence in personal choices and intrinsic motivation

The working model is based on the dialogue technique, in the context of self-determination theory and person-centred planning, with an emphasis on inclusive leisure activities like any other person, with goals of increasing self-awareness and ensuring the environment of mutual learning.

The approach is based on questions built around the learner's wishes and needs; personalization with a focus on empowering to finding a creative solution for everyone; self-directing and establishing contacts for self-development; identifying the own system (family, neighbours, friends) that can create inclusion and open up new opportunities.

Lessons are designed in easy language, learning by repetition, exchange of knowledge and experiences within the group, mutual support and empowering as group coordinators the participants with Down syndrome who already know or do certain activities and exercises.

Learning is done through group dialogue, support work, individual work, role play and communication exercises.


The DS LEISURE training program trains respect, recognition and acceptance of differences in vision; active listening, expressing one's inner voice, asking questions, involving in the topics of dialogue and serious consideration of the contribution of each participant.

The DS LEISURE Consortium thanks users and collaborators for their involvement and dedication!


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