22. Leisure and recreation

What does leisure mean for me? What is leisure?

Leisure is time that is free from work, time where you can do what you want. It can be fun or social or it can be something you choose to do on your own. Leisure is goal directed. It is more than sitting around in spare time. Leisure is pursuing an activity for the purpose of recreation.

Why is leisure important?

Leisure is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle for all people. It helps us to maintain a balance between what we have to do and what we would like to do for fun and enjoyment. Leisure can make a major contribution to the quality of life you experience. Positive benefits of leisure include the following:

  • increasing social networks ie. meeting people
  • expanding your skills
  • increasing your self esteem
  • improving your self image through achievement of goals
  • community integration
  • satisfaction
  • relaxation / stress release

What prevents you from participating in leisure?

Many people following a head injury will have to face a number of barriers which prevent them from participating in leisure. The most common barriers are:

  • lack of facilities
  • money
  • time
  • lack of knowledge about resources
  • transport - how do I get there?


What activities can I choose from?

Below is a list of activities and recreational activities

o Amateur acting
o Amateur radio
o Archery
o Attending auctions
o Attending concerts

o Badminton
o Basketball
o Bike riding
o Billiards/pool
o Bird watching
o Bowling
o Breeding pets

o Camping
o Canoeing
o Chess
o Collecting antiques
    e.g. stamps, coins etc
o Computers
o Cooking
o Crosswords

o Dancing
o Designing clothes
o Dining out
o Drawing/doodling
o Driving

o Electronics
o Evening classes

o Fishing
o Flower arranging
o Football

o Gardening
o Getting away
    on weekends
o Going on picnics
o Going to nightclubs
o Going to plays
o Going to a movie
o Going to local parks
o Going to horse races
o Golf
o Gym classes

o Hiking/walking
o Horse riding

o Ice/roller skating

o Jewellery making
o Jigsaw puzzles
o Jogging
o Judo/karate etc

o Kite flying
o Knitting/crocheting

o Leatherwork
o Listening to CD's

o Listening to radio

o Mechanics
o Metalwork
o Model building
o Motor cycling

o Needlework

o Painting
o Photography
o Playing a guitar
o Playing a piano
o Playing cards
o Pottery

o Reading
o Redecorating
o Rowing/boating

o Sailing
o Sewing
o Sightseeing
o Singing
o Skiing
o Softball/baseball
o Squash
o Swimming

o Table tennis
o Tai Chi
o Taking care of pets
o Talking on phone
o Tennis
o Traveling

o Visiting friends
o Visiting museums

o Window shopping
o Writing letters
o Writing poems
o Writing stories

o Yoga

o Other


How can I overcome these barriers? Where can I go for information?

The following information includes tips to help you overcome barriers to leisure.

Lack of facilities

Explore what facilities currently exist, approach organisers to discuss if they can/will expand their service to accommodate your needs.

Lobby for facilities.


Budgeting for leisure activities along with day to day necessities can help. Try using a budget planner or speak to your occupational therapist for further help. See Section 12 Finances and Money Handling, for information on budgeting.

Take advantage of:
o free entertainment offered with festivals e.g. Festival of Sydney.

o half price tickets e.g. movies on Tuesdays
o your pension card if you have one, and try asking for concessions.

Lack of knowledge about resources

To find out about programs, groups, activities etc, follow the simple steps below.

Community Advice Centres / Councils / Libraries / Neighbourhood Centres:

These organisations have information on activities, groups, centres and services available in your area.

You can either ring them or go in and look at the information available.

To find the location of these centres, look in the front of the White Pages for your Local Council under the "Local Government" Section.

Phone Book

If you know the name of the organisation or group, look in the White Pages or Yellow Pages under the alphabetical listing.

If you don't know the exact title to look up, here is your chance to play Sherlock Holmes!

Use the alphabetical listing in the White Pages or the index of the Yellow Pages to look for the name of the activity e.g. "Abseiling" .

Ring the people listed (eg for "Abseiling", the index suggests you look up "Outdoor and/ or Bush craft Equipment and Services"), and ask if they have any contact names for an abseiling association or a reputable abseiling group in your area.

Next, give them a call. See Section 10 Conversationa and Section 19 Accessing the Community, for some ideas on how to generate a list of questions.

Local and Daily Papers

Local papers Local papers have lots of information on what's happening and what is going to happen in your area and surrounding areas.

Daily papers These papers particularly devote space to leisure guides with Thursday, Friday and Saturday being the main days. These guides have information on all types of leisure activities -movies, bands, concerts, festivals, exhibitions ... and much more .


Radio stations have community service announcements, news items, interviews and ads, all of which give information on events of interest and leisure activities.

Some FM radio stations even have an information phone line letting you know what is happening around town.

Shop Windows, Community Notice boards, Telegraph Posts

People use these places to:

  • Advertise things which they wish to sell- guitars, guinea pigs, etc.
  • Inform people about services, such as lawn mowing, baby-sitting, sewing, or meetings, classes, market days etc.


Sell magazines on lots of different leisure interests e.g. motoring, outdoor activities, indoor activities and lots more.

Sell directories e.g. handbooks on 'Cheap Eats', Gig guide, TAFE courses, Weekend Getaways. Have a browse and see what a variety of directories and information books are available.

Sell special interest newspapers, and in some suburbs, foreign language newspapers.

Local Specialty Shops

Craft, camping, bicycle and other special purpose shops will often have information on groups and classes.

Brain Injury Programs

Each Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit offers a different program. Contact them and there may be part of their program you can become involved in or they may be able to direct you to community groups.

Transport - How can I get there?

Public Transport

The State Transit Authority has timetables and fare information on suburban and inter-urban government and private bus, ferry and rail services. If you are having difficulties catching public transport you can contact an occupational therapist from the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit for help. See Section 18 Public Transport, for strategies to enable you to use public transport.

Special Transport

Contact your local council as there may be a community transport service that can assist you to get to shopping centres, medical appointments or have a leisure program.

Other ways of getting to places

Think about walking, jogging, or cycling if you have to travel to your activity. Or, see if you can organise a lift with someone who may also be going to the same place.

Sam's experience

Prior to his car accident Sam loved cars. He loved working on them, reading about them and attending car meets. Sam wasn't medically allowed to drive after his accident but he still wanted to be involved with cars. While he was still in hospital he was given some car magazines. Sam enjoyed reading these magazines and decided he should get a subscription. He did. From this magazine he found out about an interest club. Sam became a member of the club and he has now met new people who have a similar interest - cars!

Jasmine's experience

Jasmine didn't have any ideas about what leisure activities she could become involved in so she contacted the recreation officer at the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit. Jasmine has a support worker who provides her transport to and from appointments and works with her to do different activities- including fun ones. Jasmine, the support worker and the recreation officer sat down and worked through activities in Jasmine's local area. They used the local paper for ideas. Jasmine decided she would like to try art classes. The recreation officer did the groundwork and organised for Jasmine to attend the classes once a week. Jasmine attends with her support worker and has now decorated her family home with her own art work.

Jame's experience

James loves music. He is eighteen and had just got his licence when he was involved in a car accident. He and his mate heard from a commercial radio about DJing for a local radio station. James and his mate followed it up and once a week, DJ on community radio. James gets to play his favourite music and has met a whole new circle of people.

Jack's experience

Jack lives by himself in the community. He visits the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit at least four times a week to keep in contact with people. He does not have many friends in the community and has a very tight budget as he is on the Disability Pension. Jack's main social contact is through a leisure and recreation group run by the recreation officer. It is run fortnightly. One fortnight it is a games and support day: These days Jack mingles with other community clients and has learnt to play games such as chess and poker. The alternate fortnight Jack goes with the group on a community outing. It is usually a low cost item as most people who attend are on the pension. He has a leisure activity that he says gets him out of the house and allows him to meet other people.



How do I plan an outing or a social get together?

The secret to a successful outing or get together is pre-planning. You have to have thought of everything you need to consider so that on the day, there are no last minute things which you remember but it is too late to do anything about!

Helpful hints

There are six words that will allow you to cover all bases. These words ask questions. They are:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How

If you think about each of these aspects of the event you are planning, you are sure to have a coordinated success!

Specific questions arising from the above points may include:

  • Where are we going?
  • What are we doing?
  • What is it going to cost?
  • Who's coming?
  • What time do we meet?
  • Where do we meet?
  • How do we get there?
  • What do we need to take?
  • How do we get home?

Good preparation before you leave home can save you time and be the difference between a fun day out or a miserable time. Which would you rather have?

Sam's experience

After hospital Sam went home to live with his family: He wanted to say thank you to all the people who had worked with him to date. He asked his parents if he could have a "thank you" party. Sam with the help of his parents used the "who, what, when, where, why and how" questions to identify everything he would need to consider.

Who's coming? Sam generated a list of names of people he wanted to come.

What will happen? Sam identified he wanted a DJ for dancing, nibbles and supper and he wanted to give a thank you speech.

When will it happen? Sam identified a Friday night in a month's time. He thought this would give all his intended guests plenty of notice.

Where will it happen? Sam wanted to have it at his family home.

Why? To say thank you to everyone.

How? Sam identified he needed to do the following things before the night:
• need to go shopping
• write invitations
• set up garage
• pick what music
• prepare food
• write thank you speech.

Sam worked with his family and the thank you party was a success. The six questions enabled Sam to prepare for his "Thank you" party.


What can I do at home?

Writing Desk


Here are some great activity ideas that you can do at home.

  • Tease the brain - do a crossword puzzle; write a poem or story; read; playa computer game; learn to play a musical instrument.

  • "Veg Out" - watch TV or videos; listen to the radio.

  • Be self sufficient - grow your own flowers and vegies; paint or repair your house or furniture.

  • Spoil yourself - try a new hairstyle; have a bubble bath; trim your beard a new way.

  • Do something physical - work out to a tape or an exercise video; start an exercise program with new goals for each week.

  • Be crafty - make Christmas and birthday presents for friends and family; decorate your home; paint your bedroom a different colour.

  • Get a penpal- write letters to people on the other side of the world.

  • Something to do with friends - talk on the phone; invite a friend over to watch a video, to chat, to have a meal, to do some craft activities together.

  • Plan - how you will use your leisure time; work out a timetable for when you will do certain leisure activities; where and when you will have your next holiday. .

Frank's experience

Frank lived on his own and depended upon his friend or support worker to get him out of the house. Frank didn't mind so much- he lived on a property where he could look out over some countryside. Frank had a special chair that looked out over the valley and rolling hills. Frank stated he spent time during the day sitting in his chair and writing poetry.

Tracey's experience

Tracey lived by herself before her accident and wanted to return to living by herself after hospital. She did not have much contact with her family after her accident, however was given a Playstation for her birthday from her parents. Tracey says she spends a lot of time at home playing her playstation as it works on her concentration, coordination and memory. She also says it fills in her time when she has nothing better to do.