Dr Timothy Shriver was appointed as the chair holder of the UNESCO Chair at the Institute of Technology Tralee, co. Kerry, Ireland in June.
Dr Shriver has been a part of an amazing team that has created exciting new Special Olympics programmes in athlete leadership, cross-cultural research, health, education, and family support. Among them, Special Olympics Healthy Athlete examination and education program for people with intellectual disabilities, and Special Olympics Unified Schools has become a powerful new program promoting school-based social inclusion and unified leadership. He has also worked to garner more government support for issues of concern to the Special Olympics community, testifying before the United States Congress and challenging government leaders worldwide to respect the dignity and possibilities of people with intellectual disabilities. This advocacy work with governments will support efforts to implement the Kazan Action Plan in the coming years as follow-up from MINEPSVI. As part of his passion for promoting the gifts of the marginalized, Dr Shriver has harnessed the power of Hollywood to share stories of inspiration and change, co-producing DreamWorks Studio “Amistad,” and Disney Studios’ 2000 release “The Loretta Claiborne Story.”
The UNESCO Chair, with the title ‘Transforming the Lives of People with Disabilities, Their Families and Communities through Physical Education, Sport, Recreation and Fitness’. The Chair works in partnership with organisations around the globe, from policy to practice, co-creating inclusive societies in keeping with the goals of the United Nations and UNESCO. The chair adopts an intersectional approach to include all marginalised groups, the Chair focuses on inclusivizing for people of disabilities, as they experience more systemic and structural barriers that other groups, using quality physical education, sport, recreation and fitness as the vehicles to create inclusive, societies with equal opportunity to optimal wellbeing for all.
Commenting on his appointment Dr Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics International, said he was “honoured” to take on the role as UNESCO Chairholder Tralee further saying “Special Olympics has always had a great relationship with IT Tralee and this appointment gives us the opportunity to join our efforts to build a world that accepts and provides for diversity as a norm”. This year is a very important one for UNESCO. In July they [convened] government ministers from around the world, along with senior officials of sport, in Kazan, Russia to seek commitments for the establishment of a comprehensive vision of inclusive access for all in physical education, physical activity and sport. As Chairholder, I fully support this agenda. Our Chair in Tralee, together with Special Olympics International and all other partners of the Chair, will be at the forefront of supporting inclusive access to health and wellbeing, communities, education, economy and society aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030,”.
Dr Oliver Murphy, President of the Institute, said, “Dr Shriver brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role. Through the power and reach of his connections he will fast-track the inclusion of people with disabilities as a priority policy and practice area globally”.
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UFIT – Universal Fitness Innovation & Transformation, UNESCO Chair led international project inclusivizing the fitness industry: http://www.justdoufit.com/
Written by Aisling Surgrue, UNESCO Chair Researcher