Leisure is the time we spend doing the things we enjoy. It includes a wide range of different activities, from getting involved with a sports team and visiting an art gallery to reading a book. Leisure is valuable because it gives us time to spend time with our friends and family, to try new things and to take on new challenges.

For the parents and carers of children with a learning disability, finding suitable and accessible leisure activities can be a big challenge.  Even before you've left the house there are a number of things to consider, such as transport, costs and finding suitable facilities. As a result, the prospect of organising an activity or a day trip can be a daunting prospect.

Certainly there are obstacles. But with careful planning and preparation, parents can help their children to get involved in leisure activities both on their own and together as a family, and might even be able to relax and enjoy the experience themselves.

Going out to an event was a totally new experience for us. The seemingly erratic behaviour of our children to certain situations means family outings are not often considered.

These pages have been written for parents and carers to help them find suitable leisure activities for someone with a learning disability, including tips for overcoming obstacles and organising a day out. The guide also contains lots of information on action you can take. Look for the What next? sign for things you can do.

This information is also available to download as a PDF.


Why is leisure important?

Leisure time is important for everyone, as it provides an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, to have fun and to relax.

Accessible toys and play equipment

Accessible toys and play equipment can provide a valuable source of learning and fun for someone with a learning disability.

School activities

Many schools will organise clubs and activities outside of school hours.


Getting involved in sports can be a great way to keep fit and active, make new friends and have fun.

Finding accessible leisure activities in your area

Finding accessible leisure activities in your local area can be a good way to minimise transport costs, and enables you as a parent to make sure the facilities available will meet your child'

Organising day trips

Parents have told Mencap about the many obstacles that need to be overcome when organising a day trip.

Top tips for organising a day out

Read our top tips for organising a day out with someone with a learning disability.

Further help

Find out where to get further help and information about leisure services.