Community Accessible recreation

9 December 2021  

Karin Stiksma has been working in the social domain for many years, as a supervisor, developer of concepts at managerial level, consultant and director-manager. She studied leisure sciences, completed the international Master's program in European Leisure Studies and participated in international studies. She also wrote a Whitepaper in which she described her dreams for inclusive daytime recreation in the Netherlands; now and in ten years. According to Karin, you can turn three buttons on this social issue to improve accessibility: the attraction itself, the infrastructure and the employees.

You described a dream in your Whitepaper, what came out of that?

It has led to an adjustment of the 'Samen Veilig Uit' protocol of the Club van Eleven. That is the dome of the largest daytime attractions in the Netherlands. The protocol was drawn up to make the reopening of day attractions in the one and a half meter society go safely. Thanks to the adaptation, the special needs of people with disabilities were also taken into account.

You are the founder of the Accessible Recreation Community, how did that come about and what does it mean?

To really put accessibility and inclusion in Dutch recreation on the map, you need parties from all sides of the playing field. Recreational entrepreneurs, their suppliers, producers of attractions, experts by experience, interest groups and more. Many of those parties do not know each other at all, so in my opinion there was a huge opportunity there. During the research for my Whitepaper I had already noticed that there are an enormous number of initiatives, which also offers opportunities. 

This is how the idea for the Community Accessible Recreation was born; connecting all these parties and initiatives, sharing knowledge and learning together. And that in one place, unique in the Netherlands. We work together with parties such as the Efteling, the Vrienden Loterij, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Apenheul, Beekse Bergen and Toverland.

You work together with VWS, do you need politics for change?

I think so. The government has a broad social responsibility and can take on a stimulating and facilitating role to finally take this movement even further.

What golden tip do you have for a company that wants to take its first steps towards accessibility?

Talk to people with disabilities. Ask them questions. What do they need from you? Do not always emphasize the disability, they are your guest in your recreation company, what do they need to have a good time? That is also the starting point for guests without disabilities. Once you have that in mind, you can see together to what extent you can meet each other's needs. And make sure your information is in order. Are things in your recreation company not accessible? Please state this clearly on your website. That prevents disappointment.

What is your wish for the future?

That we are going to expand the community with participants from the attraction industry. I also hope that the government will take up its role to actively facilitate this. Personally, I would like to continue to support recreational entrepreneurs in developing an inclusive strategy and translating that into inclusive business operations. I would also like to be internationally active in this field so that we can bring ideas from abroad to the Netherlands and vice versa. I am already a member of the Accessibility Taskforce of IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parcs and Attraction Industry).

What do you think of

Very nice. This gives recreation entrepreneurs a new opportunity to make some of their services accessible. With this we help make the Netherlands more accessible again, so I think that's incredibly nice! 

And I think it's valuable that is a member of the community. You can pick up ideas there from others and in turn inspire and help the other participants. That connection is exactly what the community wants to achieve, then it will only get better and more beautiful.

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