Reynsla stjórnenda félagsmiðstöðva og frístundaheimila á tímum samkomubanns vegna COVID-19 vorið 2020

Translated title of the contribution: Leisure-time centres and youth centres during meeting ban in Iceland spring 2020

Kolbrún Þ. Pálsdóttir, Ársæll Már Arnarsson, Steingerður Krisjánsdóttir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the schooling and lives of
1.6 billion children and young people in 190 nations on every continent. This article
discusses the impact of the COVID-19 meeting ban on the activities and services of
leisure-time centers and youth centers in Iceland. The aim of the study was to shed
light on the attitudes and experiences of managers about the effects of the ban on
daily activities. An electronic survey took place from 27 April to 26 May 2020. The
survey was sent to e-mail addresses of managers in leisure activities in the capital area
and to the e-mail addresses of all primary school staff in the country. This research
explores only the responses from the 117 managers of leisure programs, the managers of
leisure-time centers (i. frístundaheimili) (N=69) and the managers of youth centers (i.
félagsmiðstöðvar) (N=48). Most participants worked in the capital area. Other articles
in this special issue discuss findings relating to teachers in primary school and social
pedagogues who work in schools.
The results show a significantly different working environment of leisure centers, on
the one hand-time centers and youth centers, on the other. The activities of most youth
centers came to a significant halt when the management was forced to close due to
the lockdown in spring 2020. The attendance of children at leisure-time centers
decreased significantly and great emphasis was placed on smaller groups and quarantine
compartments. Almost all managers of youth centers, 87%, reported that the centers
had been partially or completely closed during the lockdown. The situation was different
when it came to leisure-time centers, as about 83% of managers answered that the
leisure-time centers had been open during the lockdown. About 71% of youth center
managers said they had organized online activities to reach and mobilize young people.
The results clearly show that immigrant youth were least involved in electronic leisure
activities and also that the participants believed young people with learning disabilities
(e.g., ADHD, dyslexia) were less involved in online activities. It is noteworthy how many
managers felt they had succeeded in adapting to changing circumstances. It is reasonable
to estimate that since most youth centers were partially or completely closed, it was more
challenging for the managers to mobilize the young people in these circumstances. It is
noteworthy that only about half of the participants thought they had received advice or
assistance in reorganizing their leisure activities. In open-ended questions participants
were asked about the challenges and opportunities they had faced during the lockdown.
It is interesting to note that some leisure center managers discussed in particular the
positive effects of having smaller groups of children in their daily work. This created
a calmer atmosphere and an opportunity to connect better with the children and the
children also made new friends. The epidemiological authorities placed strong emphasis
on the maintenance of quarantine cells by educational institutions, and leisure activities
also had to comply with the same division into groups. The majority of the managers
of leisure centers, about 66%, thought they knew that children broke out of quarantine
cells during their free time; that is, played with children who were not from the same
class or teaching group. They found this very hard to control and had to tell the children
that they might even not be able to play with their best friends.
The managers made efforts to show flexibility and initiative to maintain activities for
children and young people during the lockdown. Nevertheless, it is worrying that only
about a quarter of the participants answered positively to reaching out specifically to
socially isolated children. It is important to develop ways to better reach immigrant
youth and young people who are socially isolated. The government must consider ways
to ensure that children and young people have access to dynamic and well-organized
leisure activities during pandemics. The managers and leisure-time staff need to be given
increased professional and practical support.
Translated title of the contributionLeisure-time centres and youth centres during meeting ban in Iceland spring 2020
Original languageIcelandic
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2021

Other keywords

  • Leisure time
  • Youth programs
  • Pandemic
  • Social isolation
  • well being of children and young people


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