KIR is the airport code for Kerry, possibly the smallest airport in Ireland and the starting point for many tourists who are visiting the stunning scenery around the ring of Kerry. The nearest town to KIR is Tralee where the Institute of Technology played host to the ninth and current President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, who came to open the UNESCO Chair this week. There’s a saying in Ireland that ‘there are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t met yet’ and the President found the 3,500 students of the college to be his new best friends with their warm welcome of dance, movement, song and traditional music.
The President took time out of his busy schedule to endorse the blueprint for action, a global partnership for mainstreaming diversity, through physical education, sport, recreation and fitness. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, signed an agreement with IT Tralee to establish a Chair where the mission centres on changing minds, influencing policy and changing lives through innovative practice. Sport, as a mirror or society, has proven through history to have the capacity to mobilise change and the Paralympics 2012 showed this. When the majority of us will personally experience disability in our lives the UNESCO Chair objective to achieve full and effective inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities is a noble endeavour that will have more people flying into KIR.
It’s worth noting that in the same week both the Hollywood Oscars for best actor prizes went to the very moving portrayals of the struggle against disability. Julianne Moore for her portrayal of a woman with Alzheimer’s in Still Alice and Eddie Redmayne for his very moving portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.