ITT – first worldwide to receive UNESCO Chair in Inclusive PE, Sport, Recreation and Fitness

The Institute of Technology, Tralee (ITT) is delighted to announce that it has been awarded the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) Chair.  The announcement was made today in line with International Disability Day 2012. The Institute outlined to UNESCO how they, together with their international partners will work towards “Transforming the lives of people with disabilities through PE, Sport, Fitness and Recreation”.  The UNESCO Chairs Programme seeks to advance research, training and programme development in higher education by building networks and encouraging co-operation through transfer of knowledge across borders.  Influencing legislation policy and practice will also be core objectives of the role for IT Tralee.

The Institute of Technology, Tralee is already recognised internationally as a pioneer in achieving social inclusion through the vehicles of PE, Sport, Fitness and Recreation. In announcing the UNESCO Chair Dr Oliver Murphy noted that “the UNESCO Chair recognises the key role IT, Tralee plays internationally in the field of Adapted Physical Activity. As well as endorsing IT, Tralee as an organisation with the capacity to lead change in the lives of those with disability internationally, this also is an important development as we embark on the building of The Centre for Universal Inclusive Sport Health and Leisure Education (CUISHLE) at the ITT North Campus”. This facility will house teaching, sporting, recreational, social, cultural, artistic, and educational activities.

Catherine Carty, lecturer in the Health and Leisure Department who spearheaded the application to UNESCO stated that “the appointment of the UNESCO Chair is testament to the excellence of the people, programmes, policy and practice at the Institute of Technology Tralee in area of APA and in particular our activities in ensuring access for all those with a disability, irrespective of age, in sport and physical exercise.  Access to this activity is a basic human right and a pillar of social justice.”

Pat Flanagan, lecturer and founder of the APA programme in the Health and Leisure Department, expressed “The Institute is proud of its diverse network of international partners who have joined with them in this ambitious project which include: The Cara National Centre for Adapted Physical  Activity at IT, Tralee; International Council of Sports Science and Physical Education & Chair of the Education Committee of the International Paralympic Committee;  Centre for Inclusive Sport Studies –CEDI Technical University of  Madrid, University of Hacetteppe Turkey; EUFAPA (European Federation of Adapted Physical Activity),  Palacký University Olomouc Czech Republic, Special Olympics Europe/ Eurasia, Háskóli Íslands  (University of Iceland), English Federation of Disability Sport/Inclusive Fitness Initiative; IHRSA ‘International Health,  Racquet & Sportsclub  Association Boston,  European Observatoire of Sports Employment, ICREPS, Chernobyl Children International, International Needs, Mauritius Institute of Education, Hope Alaska, University of Victoria Canada,  Canadian Sport for Life, University of Jordan, Hashemite University Jordan, Lakeshore Foundation/University of Alabama-Birmingham, Brockport State University of New York, The Ministry of Education and Sport Cape Verde, the Inclusion Club/Youth Sports Trust Australia, Federal University Juiz De Fora, Brazil and Sport and Citizenship”.

The Health and Leisure Department, led by Aileen Kennedy, runs 6 Honours Degree Programmes in the areas of Health & Leisure with Adapted Physical Activity, Wellness, Sports Development, Fitness, Physical Education and Massage.  In addition to the undergraduate suite of programmes, IT, Tralee is now offering a Masters in Adapted Physical Activity (APA) Leadership which will commence in September 2013.   Aileen Kennedy commented that “all of the programmes put physical flourishing and wellness at their core, regardless of ability or disability, and the emphasis in this initiative in the field of disability stems from the belief that society can do more to provide for universal access and social inclusion and ultimately provides social justice for all.”  Ursula Barrett, course leader of the newly approved Masters in APA Leadership, added “The UNESCO initiative will give students the opportunity to be part of a unique educational programme, with access to the most current thinking and eminent leaders in the field internationally”.

Institute of Technology, Tralee – 4th December, 2012