- You might want to spend some your free time taking part in organised activities either at school or outside school
- If something is available in your area, you should have the opportunity to take part in the same way as everyone else
- You should feel safe when you are taking part in any organised activities
Lots of activities are available for children and young people in Wales through clubs and other organisations. Having access to these activities makes your right to rest and to play and leisure a reality, and you should have the same opportunities as every other child in your area to take part. You should also feel safe when you’re taking part in activities organised by a club, and when you’re there, even if you’re not doing anything.
You have a right not to be discriminated against - treated differently or unfairly for any reason. In Wales, laws on equality mean that you shouldn’t be stopped from joining a club or from taking part in an activity because of something like your sex, your race or your religion.
There is a special rule which means that in some cases, a club or an activity can just be for a specific group of people. A club or organisation is allowed to restrict itself like this if it’s to help a group that is disadvantaged in some way. A common example is Girl Guiding. Boys aren’t allowed to join Guides, even though girls can join Scouts. This is because Guides is set up to help girls and young women overcome disadvantages in society. Although Guides only allows girls to join, it allows girls of all races and religions to join, and any girl with a disability can join guides too.
Discrimination isn’t just about being allowed to join a club or take part in an activity. You should have exactly the same opportunities as everyone else in the club and you shouldn’t be treated differently and unfairly in any way. This could include being given a nickname that makes fun of something like your sex or your religion or disability, or people making assumptions about things you can or can’t do if you are disabled. Some of these things might happen because people haven’t thought what they are doing, or don’t understand that what they are saying is hurtful and discriminatory. Other times, it can happen because someone is doing it on purpose.
Discrimination like this is wrong and against the law, whether it’s done by accident or on purpose. If you think it’s happened by accident, you might be able to talk to the person or people concerned and explain what the problem is. If you think someone is treating you differently on purpose, or you haven’t been able to explain what’s happened to someone who has been treating you differently by accident or because they don’t understand, you could think about making a complaint to try and sort it out.
As well as your right to play, if you are disabled in any way, you have the right to support to be able to lead a full and active life. This means that you should have opportunities to play and take part in leisure activities the same as every other child in Wales. Organisations and clubs have to make reasonable adjustments to help you take part in an activity if you are disabled. What will be reasonable will depend on how big the club is and what needs to be done.
Lots of activities for children and young people rely on adults, either as volunteers or who set up as a business. Adults need to be involved to make sure you are safe, that you can take part in activities fully, and to be involved in any organisation that’s required, for example finding somewhere to hold the activity. There’s no law to make adults do this – it will just depend on who is around, what their skills are and whether they are happy to run a club or activity.
In Wales, some activities and some organisations are run mainly in Welsh. Welsh is an official language in Wales, and the Welsh Government wants to make sure that there are plenty of opportunities for people to learn and speak Welsh, throughout Wales. You shouldn’t be stopped from joining in with an activity if you don’t speak Welsh, but you can’t expect the activity to be run bilingually.
Wales is a bilingual country and Welsh and English are official languages. Some organisations, but not all, have a responsibility to make sure that services are available in Welsh and in English, but this doesn’t apply to private organisations at the moment. If you’re taking part in an activity that’s run by a public organisation like the council or a university, you should be able to use Welsh. Otherwise, it will depend on the people running the activity and the resources they have to provide this service. if an activity is provided by a private organisation and none of the adults involved in providing the activities speak Welsh, it will be difficult for the activity or the club to be run in Welsh. You can choose whether to take part in the activity, or not.
Adults who organise activities with children have to be checked to make sure they haven’t hurt children in the past or done something that might make them a risk to children.
If your club isn’t organised as part of an after school club linked with your school, it won’t be inspected by Estyn, but the people involved still need to make sure it is run safely.
If other children at the club are upsetting you or making you feel uncomfortable with their behaviour, and you don’t feel like you can say anything to the children involved, you should talk to the adults running the activity. If this is difficult for you, talk to your parents or another adult that you trust to listen to you and help you.
If something happens or you feel uncomfortable about the behaviour of an adult who is at the club, you should tell another adult that you trust. This may feel difficult for you but you shouldn’t be harmed or abused by an adult, especially one who is supposed to be looking after you. If there’s no one you feel comfortable talking to about what is happening, you can contact helplines like Childline or Meic. They can listen to you and help you decide what to do next.