President Michael D Higgins today launched the worlds first UNESCO Chair in the area of Adapted Physical Activity at the Institute of Technology, Tralee. The UNESCO (United Nations’ Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Chair is entitled “Transforming the lives of people with disabilities, their families, and community through Physical Education, Sport, Recreation and Fitness”.
The Chair leads a global partnership for mainstreaming diversity through physical education, sport,recreation and fitness. Speaking at the launch IT, Tralee President, Dr. Oliver Murphy stated. “The awarding of the Chair by UNESCO to the Institute is an acknowledgement of the commitment, professionalism and dedication both of the staff in the Health and Leisure Department and in the wider-Institute, to the fields of inclusive practice and universal access.”
As part of the festivities, the new holder of the UNESCO Chair was announced - Dr. Florian Kiuppis. Dr. Kiuppis is Associate Professor at Lillehammer University College, Norway in the Department of Education and Social Work. He is Head of the MA programme “Inclusive Education”, is responsible for teaching international students in disability studies and leads a research group called “Education -- Marginalisation and Minorities” (EDUMAMI).
Dr. Kiuppis, in his inaugural address, stated “I am delighted to take up the reins of the UNESCO Chair in Tralee. Our purpose is underpinned by the guiding principles of empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities and enabling civic society to become inclusive. Our mission centres on changing minds through influencing policy and changing lives through innovative practice and partnerships.”
Catherine Carty, the Project Manager of the UNESCO Chair said “The full and effective inclusion of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others and their full enjoyment of physical education, sport, recreation and fitness without discrimination is an essential target of our work.”
The Institute of Technology, Tralee, with the establishment of the UNESCO Chair, is reinforcing and internationalising its commitment to the fields of inclusive practice and universal access. In Ireland, the Institute’s partner on campus, the CARA National Adapted Physical Activity Centre, will continue to provide a lead nationally in facilitating, co-ordinating and advocating for the inclusion of people with disabilities in sport, physical activity and physical education; while the UNESCO Chair’s National and International remit and partnership commitment will work to complement, support and showcase the work of the CARA Centre.
The President also unveiled a specially commissioned artwork which will ultimately hang in the €15m Kerry Sports Academy at IT, Tralee North Campus. Construction of this project, which will take 18 months, is expected to commence in the academic year 15/16. The KSA will be a universally accessible sports and education facility which will be home to:
- Health and Leisure Programmes at the IT, Tralee;
- UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Physical Education, Sport, Fitness, and Recreation;
- National Centre for Adapted Physical Activity – CARA;
- Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence;
- Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Kerry.