The WLO Awards ceremony was celebrated during the World Leisure Congress at Otago Museum in Dunedin, on December 14, 2023. Prof. Dr. Jane Zhou received the WLO Community of Excellence recognition on behalf of Shangyu District, China. Prominent figures who have contributed to the development of the leisure field were also recognised with the Thomas & Ruth Rivers International Scholarship – awarded to Leonardo Calix Soares, the Cornelis Westland Humanitarian Award – acknowledging the trajectory of Prof. Dr. Christopher Edginton, and the George Torkildsen Literary Award, received by Prof. Dr. Ricardo R. Uvinha. The Ceremony closed with a tribute to Prof. Danilo Santos, who recently passed away, in recognition to his enormous contribution as the Director of Sesc Sao Paulo since 1984.
WLO Chair Prof. Joanne Schroeder chaired the WLO Awards ceremony held on December 14, 2023, at the Otago Museum in Dunedin, New Zealand. The first recognition was the designation of Shangyu District as a World Leisure Communities of Excellence. This recognition bestowed by the WLO upon communities that have successfully used Leisure in its widest forms to reinvent themselves and to improve the economic, social, and cultural lives of their citizens, and that have made substantive contributions consistent with advancing the mission of WLO. Prof. Dr. Jane Zhou received the award on behalf of Shangyu District. The comprehensive review process, including an on-site visit, highlighted Shangyu’s clear purpose in integrating leisure into the community, consistent alignment with the values of the WLO, strong commitment to community engagement, and well-documented effectiveness in fostering economic growth, poverty alleviation, enhanced quality of life, cultural preservation, environmental contributions, social inclusivity, and leisure education. Shangyu emerges as a noteworthy candidate, showcasing its dedication to promoting leisure for the benefit of its citizens and the community at large.
The 2023 Thomas & Ruth Rivers International Scholarship (TRRIS) was awarded by Dr. Cari Autry, chair of the TRRIS Committee, to Leonardo Calix Soares. The Thomas and Ruth Rivers International Scholarship is intended to provide opportunities for senior or graduate students who are studying recreation, leisure studies, leisure services, leisure resources, or tourism studies in college or university programs to attend and present a scholarly paper at the biennial international World Leisure Congress. This years’ winner is Leonardo Calix Soares, student in the master’s degree in Sports Science for Health at the University of Sao Paulo and Analyst in the Physical and Sports Development Department at Sesc São Paulo. Through his research in the leisure field, he focuses on evaluating the amount of physical activity people spend in their free time and how campaigns and events can increase or decrease this volume.
Prof. Marie Young announced the winner of the 2023 Cornelis Westland Humanitarian Award, Prof. Dr. Christopher Edginton. The Cornelis Westland Humanitarian Award seeks to perpetuate the efforts of former World Leisure Secretary General Cor Westland. He was a sincere and authentic man – with a huge heart. Cornelis (Cor) Westland (1918 – 2008) served as Secretary General of WLRA from 1984 to 1996. The Cornelis Westland Humanitarian Award seeks to recognize an individual or organization that has made significant and sustained contributions to the worldwide leisure movement, advancing human concerns. Prof. Dr. Jane Zhou received the Award on behalf of Prof. Dr. Christopher Edginton, who served as the Secretary General of the World Leisure Organization from 2004 to 2014. He is recognized as an outstanding educator, researcher and productive author. He is a noted leader in the application and practice of leadership, management and programming for leisure services. A tireless worker, innovative, visionary, and inclusive he is supportive of others especially young professionals. As a result, he has made immense contributions to the worldwide leisure movement.
The George Torkildsen Literary Award was then announced by Prof. Dr. Lawal Marafa. This Award seeks to perpetuate the memory of this remarkable individual who served as Chair of the World Leisure Board of Directors (1996 – 2004). He was the first community sports center manager in Britain and has been called the father of sport and leisure in that country. This award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the recreation, parks and leisure service literature by advancing innovative ideas, thoughts and/or philosophical perspectives. The 2023 winner of “the George” Award is Prof. Dr. Ricardo R. Uvinha, Associate Professor of the Graduate Program in Tourism, Leader of the Interdisciplinary Group of Leisure Studies and Associate Dean of the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, University of Sao Paulo USP, Brazil. He is the Director of the WLCE University of Sao Paulo and Interim President of the WL Academy. He holds a Master’s Degree in Leisure Studies from the State University of Campinas (1997), a PhD in Tourism and Leisure from the University of Sao Paulo (2003) and a Post doctorate in Tourism and Leisure Studies from Griffith University, Australia (2004). Dr. Ricardo Uvinha is the author of several articles and books in his country focused on Tourism and Leisure. He is strongly committed to projects that focus on the development of Tourism and Leisure Studies in Brazil, mostly in the Sao Paulo region and related to the Sports Tourism and Sports Megaevents. Former president of the Brazilian Association for Leisure Studies (2014-2016) and former Vice-President of the World Leisure Organization (2007-2016), he was the Chairman of the 15th World Leisure Congress (2018) and has attended academic and professional meetings in more than 50 countries.
Finally Maria Luiza de Souza closed the Award Ceremony with some words in memoriam of Prof. Danilo Santos de Miranda, Director of Sesc SP since 1984, who passed away last October 29, 2023. The WLO family has lost an authentic humanist and one of the most relevant personalities in the Brazilian culture. A pioneer and leading figure in the promotion of culture as an educational driving force who, throughout his career as a philosopher and cultural and social manager, transformed the cultural landscape of his country through his exceptional and outstanding leadership within the Social Service of Commerce (Sesc). Through Sesc, he played a fundamental role in the organization of the two World Leisure Congresses in Sao Paulo in 1998 and 2018 and became a great advocate in building the strong and friendly relationship between Sesc and WLO that we still have nowadays.