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World Leisure International Innovation Prize


What is the World Leisure International Innovation Prize?
The World Leisure International Innovation Prize seeks to recognize organisations that have implemented creative solutions that foster local, national or international leisure opportunities for the benefit and development of individuals and communities. Leisure is considered in its broadest sense including play, recreation, the arts and culture, sports, festivals and celebrations, health and fitness, or travel and tourism. It encompasses indoor or outdoor programs, services and amenities.

What makes this prize unique?
The major feature that distinguishes the World Leisure International Innovation Prize from other awards is that it focuses on the social and cultural aspects of leisure as an aspect of the lived experience for individuals in a community and for visitors to the community. This Prize represents the use of leisure as a creative solution to enhancing collectively the social, cultural, environmental, and economic quality of life in an area.

What is meant by Innovation?
Originality, creativity, and innovation should be demonstrated related to process (vision, management, and communications), resources (financial viability and human such as volunteers), partnerships and community involvement, outputs (program, events, and amenities) and outcomes. Further, the project should be “inspirational” or demonstrate a “feel good” factor. Innovation may mean a new idea or it may mean finding creative solutions through leisure to existing problems and issues. Innovations must demonstrate more than a quality program. In addition, applicants must demonstrate that their project does not exist elsewhere but it could be potentially adapted to other situations.


The Prize is open to any public, voluntary, or private sector organization.
Application procedure
• Applications must be submitted in the English language.
• All entries must be sent in Adobe PDF format to [email protected]
• A senior member of the organisation must make the submission and include the following details:
       - Name of organisation and full contact details
       - Name of principal contact
       - Title of project
       - A written statement demonstrating how the project meets the six Prize criteria (given below).
            • The written statement is limited to 1,500 words.
            • No images (videos, pictures, PowerPoint presentations, brochures or any other material) besides the written materials can be submitted.
            • Graphs and data tables illustrating the project are acceptable.
            • The application can include a web address where Committee Members may go to review images or get more information about the project.
            • Applications that are more than 1500 words or include images will not be accepted.
• Once an application is accepted, it will be acknowledged by the WLO Secretariat.
• Applications are due on 31st March 2016.
• Winners will be announced in May 2016.
• The 2016 World Leisure International Innovation Prize will be presented during the 14th World Leisure Congress which will be held in Durban, South Africa, from 27th to 30th June.
• A condition of being awarded the Innovation Prize is that a representative of the winning organization must attend and participate in the World Leisure Congress as detailed previously.

Evaluation criteria
The project must have been in operation for two years or more and needs to meet the following criteria:
1. Innovation - the applicant demonstrates originality and creativity in the project, which must have been operational for more than two years at the time of application.
2. Clear Objectives - the objectives of the project must be clearly stated and evidence provided that they have been met successfully.
3. Quality - the project is a quality project demonstrated by independent assessments (where available).
4. Community Involvement - the project contributes to promoting the social, cultural, economic, and environmental quality of the community.
5. Community Impact - the project demonstrates how leisure contributes to the quality of life of a community.
6. Sustainability - evidence is provided showing that the project is sustainable in the long term.

Evaluation Committee
Applications are judged by an international panel.
Chair: Ian Cooper (United Kingdom).
Committee Members:
Karla Henderson (United States of America)
Garry Henshall (Australia)
Pierre Morin (Canada)
Patrick Nanty (Seychelles)
Pang Xuequan (China)

Prize winners
• One representative of the winning organisation is funded to attend the World Leisure Congress, funding includes:
       - Air and other transport modes travel to the Congress location
       - Hotel accommodation for the duration of the Congress
       - Congress registration (full delegate) fee
• The winning organization representative also receives the following in the Prize Ceremony during the Congress:
       - The “George” trophy, a physical symbol/statue reflecting the unique social, cultural characteristics of the physical, cultural or social geography of the location of the World Leisure Congress where the prize is presented.The "George" is named to recognize the late Dr. George Torkildsen (1934 - 2005, UK) who was the first Prize Committee Chair and past Chair of the World Leisure Board of Directors.
       - A framed certificate
• During the Congress programme, the winning organization’s representative is given the opportunity to present and showcase their project to Congress delegates as part of the Congress programme
• Winning organizations may also use the title “2016 World Leisure International Innovation Prize Winner” and the Innovation Prize logo in their future media information

Highly Commended
World Leisure will recognize and award the other projects that are judged to be with a “highly commendable” with a framed certificate. Representatives of these projects are not supported to attend the Congress Prize Ceremony.


Click here to get the Innovation Prize Winning Projects Book

2016 Prize - winners
2016 World Leisure International Innovation Prize  Press Release

Programme: Programme Diplôme d’Aptitude aux Fonctions d’Animateur (DAFA) or Group Facilitation Skills Certificate
Organization: Loisir Quebec
Contact: Sonia Vaillancourt
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.programmedafa.com/  (available only in French) // http://www.loisirquebec.com/

The Canadian recreation training Programme Diplôme d’Aptitude aux Fonctions d’Animateur (DAFA) or Group Facilitation Skills Certificate. The Programme was established in 2009 by seven recreation organisations and is now recognised by all of Quebec’s recreation organisations. The programme is managed by the Quebec Leisure Council/ Conseil québécois du loisir. 

Over 22,000 young people have already registered, and nearly 400 municipalities and local organisations work with 800 instructors to deliver DAFA courses. The training standard is operational in every region of the Quebec province as a way of ensuring quality and safety in group activities. 

The DAFA Programme is the result of an unprecedented cooperative effort on the part of Quebec’s recreation organisations, working together to manage the Programme’s development. 

The DAFA Programme meets expected standards for quality and safety in the facilitation of group recreation, validates the work of the facilitators, promotes recruitment and retention, and encourages discussion between networks through recognition of the Programme across Quebec and beyond. 

Thanks to its decentralised structure and the flexibility, it provides to organisations, training can be adapted to any community’s needs. It was chosen by TIESS as one of a number of innovative experiences that connect municipalities and the social economy.

2016 Highly Commended projects 
Programme: The Peace Village Hostel, Flanders, Belgium
Contact: Matti Vandemaele
Email: [email protected]
Websites: http://www.peacevillage.be/en

For the past ten years, the Peace Village Hostel has specialised in welcoming young people from across the world. Visitors enjoy a personal and tailored visit to the former World War One frontline from the hostel. In 2015, some 20.000 youngsters from the UK, Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and New Zealand stayed at the Peace Village.

The Peace Village Hostel provides more than just a bed and board, the educational department focusses on the former battlefields of the Great War. The landscape, the final eye witness of the conflict, is still scattered with relics of the distant past. Hundreds of cemeteries have become the final resting place for soldiers from both sides with monuments, mine craters and memorials which remind us of the horror of the Great War. The Peace Village wants to assist (young) visitors in their discovery of the local area and in an interactive way transfer that experience into a lesson for life which resonates today.

2012 Prize-winners


2012 World Leisure International Innovation Prize Winners recieveing their awards at the 2012 Rimini World Leisure Congress

Community Access Program
Organization: Edinburgh Leisure, Scotland, United Kingdom
Contact: James Brandon, Head of Projects and Funding
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.edinburghleisure.co.uk


Like many countries Scotland faces harsh health inequalities; from people living in areas of complete social deprivation to some of the highest rates of obesity in the world. High rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness and mental health conditions have also increased the amount of social isolation.

The Community Access Program was created to support local social and welfare organizations and enable them to use physical activity as a health improvement tool. Edinburgh Leisure (a trust operating the City of Edinburgh’s public leisure facilities) consulted 250 partner organizations about how to deliver activities and take responsibility for barriers that they faced. The result was a focused scheme, which includes the following features:

• Providing free leisure cards (a card that grants entry into facilities) to all organizations who signed up to the scheme
• Subsidizing the cost of visits to UK £1 per person per visit for gym, swim and fitness classes (a subsidy averaging UK £4.20 per visit)
• Providing training opportunities for all workers, support staff and project officers to gain confidence and competence to include physical activity in their projects
• Providing a dedicated Community Inclusion Officer to provide support, advice and management of the scheme
• Implement an individual referral scheme for people who leave support agencies to support them in independent living

The program continues to go through a process of innovation through community involvement in annual evaluations. This cycle of feedback, innovation and implementation makes this scheme unique in Scotland and across the UK.



Program:Terra Nova Rural Park
Organization: City of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
Contact: Cathy Carlile, General Manager, Community Services
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.richmond.ca


Richmond, British Columbia is a growing, dynamic urban center that has boldly adopted the vision “to be the most appealing, liveable and well-managed community in Canada”. This culturally diverse city of 186,000 people is experiencing growth and change at a remarkable pace as it transforms from a rural and suburban community to an international city.

Terra Nova Park is a 63 acre site bordered by Sturgeon Banks a 22,000 acre estuary, the Fraser River and a 35 acre Nature Park. It is easily accessed by the local community and is adjacent to a significant city-wide dike trail system that is also part of the Metro Vancouver regional Greenways system.

Historic uses in the park are being brought to life through community based agricultural programs run by non-profit groups. The site has become a venue for teaching about the local and global issues of food security and environmental stewardship. Adaptive re-uses have been implemented and others are being considered for the five heritage buildings and former residential buildings in the park. The fallow farm fields which are rapidly disappearing in urban areas are now managed to maintain a rich grass environment for raptors and other birds. Through diligent historic research, many historic features have been restored including 1880s pioneer settlers’ homes, gardens and orchards, fallow fields, hedgerows, waterways and woodlots. Other features include examples of modern urban agriculture including community garden plots and a non-profit sharing farm.

The Mill Island

Organization: City of Bydgoszcz, Poland

Contact: Mrs. Agnieszka Dybowska, Senior Officer for International Co-operation

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.bydgoszcz.pl


The Mill Island is a post-industrial enclave covers 6.5 hectares in the center of City of Bydgoszcz, Poland. In previous centuries The Mill Island had been an important economic base and the seat of the Royal Mint, but the Island become degraded area since the Soviet Army burnt down the Royal Granaries in 1945. In the next 50 years this enclave became socially, environmentally and economically forgotten and marginalized.

The main objective of the project is not only to renovate historical features, but also to create new functions that make it a great innovative leisure space linking play, recreation, the arts and culture, festivals and celebrations, fairs, exhibitions, science festivals, water sport festivals, and many more.

The project is an innovative approach to create leisure opportunities through multi-dimensional revitalization with strong partnership and community involvement. In a broader sense, the project focuses on the social and cultural aspects of leisure as a solution for community inclusion, identity building, cultural heritage protection, respect for natural values and environment. The Mill Island presents the highest standards of sustainable and responsible leisure model, where revitalized infrastructure and quality program have achieved a positive long-term impact on the citizens, visitors and place. The project commenced in 2006 and the final phase will be completed this year.


2012 Highly Commended Projects

Program: AQUAWORLD for healthier citizens of Budapest, The One Day Holiday Concept

Organization: Aquaworld Plc, Budapest, Hungary

Contact:  Ms. Katalin Pfandler,  President

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.aqua-world.hu


Aquaworld Budapest Hotel and Water Theme Park, the biggest tourist unit of Central Europe has been in operation since 2008. The Aquaworld Waterpark cost 70 M Euros. Public transport to the facility is provided by the "Hop on Hop Off" bus service, with information in 35 languages. Aquaworld has been part of the "Healthy Budapest" project for four years and contributes greatly to enhancing of life quality of the local communities, as well as to the building of international relations.


The aim of the complex is to create an international tourist attraction meeting unique demands, with a service structure that had not been previously been represented in Central Europe. The facility’s concept is a theme that created a physical environment to serve the needs of different target groups in an innovative and sustainable way, ensuring the long term sustainability of the complex. Apart from the physical implementation, the key aim of the project is to maintain and improve the health of the citizens living in and around Budapest, contributing to the concept of the "healthy capital”.


Program: Learning Through Sport

Organization: University of Worcester, England, United Kingdom

Contact:  Mick Donovan, Head of Institute of Sport & Exercise Science

Email: [email protected]

Web: http://www.worcester.ac.uk/discover/schoolchildren-take-part-in-annual-learning-through-sport-event.html



The passionate and strategic commitment by the University of Worcester over the past 10 years to create unique, innovative Learning Through Sport initiatives have inspired, included and enthused thousands of children and young adults nationally and internationally.


Whilst many still believe that higher education institutions remain isolated from their communities, the work at the University of Worcester demonstrates that sport and higher education can work collaboratively to break down barriers and develop positive life skills in young people through focused and targeted approaches and promote lifelong leisure engagement.


The scheme’s philosophy is entirely unique in its requirement within the student athlete’s program of study to design and deliver extensive community outreach work to ensure that higher education is not an alien concept, is visible as a progression route and, is in the vocabulary of young people and their families.


The Worcester Arena element of the project will soon become the Centre for Disability Sport Coaching, Teaching, Research and Development: to carry out research into disability sport education, training, coaching, and coach education. It will provide enhanced programmes in disability sport for students, teacher training, Continuing Professional Development for teachers and coaches. It will become the home for national wheelchair fencing squad, regional center for wheelchair basketball and local club/home for blind football team/players.


Program: Stonehammer Geopark

Organization: Stonehammer Geopark, St John, Canada

Contact: Gail Bremner, Executive Director

Email: [email protected]

Web: http://www.stonehammergeopark.com


 As North America’s first UNESCO supported Global Geopark, Stonehammer is about geology, but it is also about people, society and culture. Utilizing tourism experiences to impart this to the community and visitors alike is one of the four pillars of commitment for Stonehammer Geopark.


Stonehammer is the first Geopark in North America. Centered in Saint John, the park has a regional focus with 60 significant geological and fossil locales, including 12 publicly accessible sites. It connects people to the earth in a meaningful way through walking, kayaking, hiking, interpretive walks, and other experiences.


The Geopark encompasses 2,500 square kilometers of land in southern New Brunswick. Their goal is to influence and assist sustainable economic development in the region, primarily through the expanding global market of geotourism. Stonehammer is designed to add value to the existing tourism product by enhancing the stories being told and adding a deeper, richer understanding of geology and geoscience history to create a more diverse experience. Stonehammer encourages the use of local services and products, and supports active living and lifelong learning.


The project is a unique example of the community leading an effort to support the long-term sustainability of the City of Saint John and its surrounding communities with the help of partner organizations, corporate donors, and local and provincial governments. The Geopark is recognized by the Global Geoparks Network to have exceptional geological heritage. This means the area has a natural landscape that is good for education, has a significant scientific value, and is rare or simply beautiful to look at.


2011 Prize-winners 

2011 Innovation Prize Winners 

2011 World Leisure International Innovation Prize Winners recieveing their awards

Program: A Park for People

Organization: Nature Seychelles

Contact: Dr. Nirmal Jivan Shah

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.natureseychelles.org


The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman is a coastal freshwater wetland reserve 3 km from Victoria, capital of the Seychelles it originated from coastal reclamation works carried out in 1986. Prior to Nature Seychelles taking over management it was a wasteland, of no value to neighboring communities, a focus for anti-social behavior and under threat from prospective developers. In 2006, Nature Seychelles began a creative and complex wetland restoration project, unique to the Seychelles, to bring new life to the site. Since 2008, the site has been developed as the Seychelles’ first green leisure landscape – “A park for the people”. It offers a variety of innovative leisure activities that have enhanced the social, cultural, environmental and economic quality of life for the people of the Seychelles.


Program: Livvi’s Place Inclusive Playspace Network

Organization: Touched by Olivia Foundation, Australia

Contact: Rebecca Ho

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.touchedbyolivia.com.au


In the darkest grief an adult might experience – the loss of an infant - two inspiring parents decided that their daughter’s death would not be in vain. Touched by Olivia Foundation was formed in Australia in 2006 with the key objectives to help create happier and healthier lives for children. The aim of the Foundation is to provide an inclusive public playground in every community in Australia. The playgrounds are to be available to everyone regardless of age or ability. The uniqueness of these playgrounds is that they cater for neurological impairment as well as physical impairment, able-bodied users and adults in a public environment. Each playground is able to offer something for everyone by being inter-generational. To be truly inclusive the playgrounds appear and function as a traditional playground. A key objective of the playgrounds is to combat childhood obesity by offering such children an inclusive environment that helps them by creating an atmosphere where the children do not feel self-conscious.


Program: The Thousand Isle Lake Reservoir Conservation Project

Organization: Thousand Isle Lake Landscape and Travel Bureau, China

Contact: Yang Fang

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.qiandaohu.cc

The Thousand-Isle Lake was originally a reservoir formed by the construction of the Xin An Jiang Hydroelectric Power Station to supply electricity. In building the reservoir, 290,000 residents were relocated, and 90% of the fertile fields in the area were lost resulting in severe local economic changes. The reservoir covers an area of 573 km2, includes 1,078 islands and has a storage capacity of 17.8 billion m3. The Bureau commenced tourism development in 1982. Since then the Thousand-Isle Lake has developed 13 high quality scenic locations. The area now includes a New Century Resort, Sheraton and InterContinental Hotels plus four other luxury resort hotels. There are also four holiday resorts of 100 km2 under construction, with many tourist real estates, marinas, township and village tourism programs in operation. However, alongside the tourism industry, the Thousand-Isle Lake is constantly improving the local environmental quality and especially maintaining their Class I national water standard. In addition, the forest coverage around the lake has increased from 23.8% to 95.8%. It is a National Ecological Demonstration Zone.


2011 Highly Commended Projects

Program: The Sport Development and Social Legacy Project

Organization: The Football Foundation of South Africa

Contact: Michael Lutzeyer, Director

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.football-foundation.com


The Football Foundation of South Africa (FFSA) is a sport-plus non-governmental organisation founded in 2008 to promote sport and social development. It was inspired by the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The FFSA embarked on a unique project in Gansbaai, a non-host, small-town community in the Western Cape, to accelerate social change and community integration in a racially divided populace through the provision of improved sport and leisure opportunities. Working closely with the Grootbos Foundation (established in 2004 to manage environmental and social development projects for the Grootbos Nature Reserve), the FFSA project was established, with funding support from the English Premier League, to facilitate and manage the youth programmes of the foundation and is a unique example of how an event-based themed regeneration project can be undertaken within a developing country. The impact of the FFSA project has been overwhelmingly positive with the community experiencing an increased level of intangible legacies including youth development, social integration and community pride. Key factors in the success of the project have been partnership/sponsorship; ownership and participation; monitoring, evaluation and sustainability.


Program: Tourism for All in Flanders

Organization: Tourism Flanders

Contact: Anne Smits

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.visitflanders.com


Holidays are a basic right. Tourism Flanders – an agency of the Flemish government - is working to provide holidays for all. The ‘Tourism for All’ decree gives a new interpretation to social tourism and refers to a non-commercial form of tourism, in addition to merely economic activities. Tourism for All provides a structure to support specific target groups experience holidays. The target groups are people living in poverty, people with a disability, children and young people, families and senior citizens. To ensure a dynamic, sustainable and inclusive approach Tourism Flanders collaborates with private organisations and companies. This public-private association makes the Flemish social tourism facilities unique and is seen as best practice in (social) tourism. Tourism Flanders has developed an Accessible Travel Action Plan that resolutely opts for an inclusive approach targeting mainstream tourism facilities and using regular information channels. It has also developed a Holiday Participation Centre, which makes holidays accessible for people with a low income. Usage has grown from under 1,000 in 2001 to nearly 100,000 in 2010.

2010 Prize-winners

2010 Innovation Prize Winners 

2010 World Leisure International Innovation Prize Winners recieveing their awards at the 2010 ChunCheon World Leisure Congress

Program: Culture for Senior Citizens – Culture and Health
City of Umeå, Sweden

Program: Gym For Free
Birmingham City Council, UK

Program: Sydney For All
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia


2010 Highly Commended
Program: Attendant Support Initiative
Monash City Council, Australia

Program: Pride for Play
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

2008 Prize-winners

2008 Innovation Prize Winners 

2008 World Leisure International Innovation Prize Winners recieveing their awards at the 2008 Quebec World Leisure Congress

Program: Ginsters Active Workplace
Caradon District Council, Cornwall, UK

Program: Everybody gets to play
The Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, Canada

Program: Route Verte
Vélo Québec Association, Montreal, Canada


2008 Highly Commended                       

Program: Breakthrough Mentoring Project
South Gloucestershire Council, England, UK


2006 Prize-winners 

2006 Innovation Prize Winners 

2006 World Leisure International Innovation Prize Winners recieveing their awards

Program: Southern Centre Multi Sensory Facility
City of Christchurch, New Zealand

Program: Playgrounds in Contexts of Extreme Need
Emmanuel Foundation, Calgary, Canada

Program: The Strand ... a People’s Place
City of Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Program: Tourism Planning for Hangzhou Xixi Wetland Comprehensive Conservation Area
Tourism Science Research Institute, Zhejiang Province, China

2006 Highly Commended                       

Program: Active and Healthy Lifestyle Program
City of Brisbane, Australia

Program: The Old Villas of Lushan Mountain
Wuhan Sante Cableway Group Co., Wuhan, China

Program: Wuzhen: Creating Leisure Tourism in Chinese Original Ecological Ancient Town
City of Townsville, Queensland, Australia

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