In Latin America, and in Colombia in particular, a recreation field has always existed which has been made visible through the emerging human manifestations of our cultural specificities, which have been the basis supporting our multiple identities as a region. However, it was in the last four decades that a road for the intentional construction of the field of leisure and recreation started to be built in Latin America. This happened not only from the academic field through undergraduate and graduate programmes, but also with the intention of positioning recreation as a fundamental basis of our countries’ social, cultural and economic public policies.
The road that has been being built includes the challenge of both influencing public policies and expanding the educational offer of MA programmes in recreation, as well as creating spaces linked to the Latin American Network of Recreation and Free Time (Red Latinoamericana de Recreación y Tiempo Libre). These spaces will allow us to open permanent dissemination, coordination and meeting spaces, which will in turn strengthen the network and allow for friendship ties to develop. This grants the permanency of the processes and the exchange –within the diversity of approaches existing in the field of recreation – of the generated knowledge, so that we can collectively provide our region, countries and communities with alternatives for human development that match who we are, without preventing us from connecting to the global world.
Among the existing permanent meeting spaces, three of them took place during the second semester of the year. In all the three, the importance and pertinence of aligning the mentioned processes with those of WLO have been highlighted. These meeting spaces are:
- International Seminar “ReCreation and Education” (27 July, Santiago, Chile): organized by the colleagues at the Chilean Foundation Solidar, Cesar Viñales and Paloma Henriquez. Fellows from Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Colombia (Andrés Ried, Ricardo Lema y Gustavo Martínez, Richard Aguirre, Ricardo Ahualli, Esperanza Osorio and Carlos Alberto Rico) met together to share the advancements in knowledge in the field of leisure and recreation, and its relation to education. Some of the highlights of this academic space were, on the one hand, the indissoluble relation between recreation and human development and wellbeing (Esperanza Osorio y Andrés Ried) and, on the other hand, the perspective of the articulation of this field with that of recreation, as well as with some other fields ok knowledge that show us the need to structure disciplines differently when they are looked upon from the perspective of recreation. One of the key aspects of these academic spaces is the comprehensive look at the field of recreation. That explains why a wide range of topics were approached: professional training aspects, by Gustavo Martínez from Uruguay; the articulation with education in formal and informal spheres, with Richard Aguirre and Ricardo Lema, and the link to specific social action processes, with Cesar Viñales and Camila Veliz from Chile. This pointed out the value of keeping on developing management actions aimed at impacting, as mentioned before, inter-sectoral public policies, but also the urgency of placing a recreation public policy as a field with relational autonomy, with Carlos Alberto Rico.
- I International Meeting on Recreation – Building an Integrative Perspective (3-5 August, Lima, Peru): this meeting space was also characterised by the presence of scholars from the recreation field coming from different countries in South America: Julia Gerlero, Ricardo Ahualli, Rubén Sindoni, Giselle Bignardi, Gerardo Tamayo, Margarita Cano, Esperanza Osorio and Carlos Alberto Rico from Colombia, and Ricardo Lema and Luis Machado from Uruguay were the speakers in charge of the academic development of the gathering. Among others, the following topics were discussed: conceptual and theoretical developments, the relations between recreation and education, or play as a mediator in human development processes and as a tool for the prevention and attention to bullying.
- Exporecreation “Happiness, Health and Wellbeing” (24-26 August, Pereira, Colombia): this event was organized by the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira. It counted with the participation of delegates from different departments and universities in Colombia, as well as from Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. The main theme of the conference was the review of the relation between leisure and recreation and wellbeing and happiness, putting the individual at the center and considering his relations in the educational, social, cultural and political spheres. It was assessed how recreation and leisure become managers of wellbeing or buen vivir, from their conceptual, scientific, technical and social scopes, in the search of promoting lifestyles which are oriented towards care and consciousness of Life. This must be based on subjects’ daily life, experiences and realities, as well as on their beliefs and values, their knowledges and habits. Thus, coherently with the topic “Happiness, Health and Wellbeing”, the event tried to foster reflections from this perspective, looking into how a “living” (habitar) of recreation must be inserted into personal and social life, making it visible and clear the value of life, health and care as the most valuable goods for people to have more scenarios for happiness.
These events share the Latin American integrative character, valuing the diversity of approaches and insisting on the importance of validating them in the next WL Congress 2018 in São Paulo, which we expect to attend as a new Latin American WL Chapter.