The 1st NIID Summer School took place from Monday 27th- Wednesday 29th July, 2009 in Trinity College Dublin. The 3-Day school was the first of its kind here in Ireland. In a move away from the more ‘conference’ type proceedings, delegates were invited to spend the full 3 days of the summer school in one workshop, therefore cultivating a deep knowledge of one particular topic.
The school was attended by over 160 people, spread across 7 workshops. These workshops were facilitated by both internationally renowned researchers and activists in the field of intellectual disabilities, and also the staff of the NIID. The workshops showcased the work of the following presenters:
Professors Rud & Ann Turnbull, from the Beech Centre, University of Kansas, on creating partnerships.
Debbie Espiner, University of Aukland and Ray Murray, NIID on Personalisation and Person Centred Planning.
Prof. Rud Turnbull facilitating the partnershops workshop
Professor Mary Falvey and Dr. Richard Rosenberg, California State University, on transitions from school to work
Minerva Rivas, NIID, on creating a message using the media
Professor Susan Ryan, University of Vermont, in the area of early intervention
Irene Clark, Melbourne in the area of portrait painting.
John Kubiak, NIID, in the expressive arts.
The feedback from delegates has been very positive. The theme of the summer school was ‘Inclusion through Education, Research and Advocacy’, and this theme was set by the showing of the award winning documentary “Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy” from Welcome Productions. The film follows the stories of Diana and Kathy, two women with disabilities who share a house together and support each other to live independent lives. The strong fighting spirit seen in their struggles to fight for what is right, and to overcome the obstacles life throws at them inspired everyone who watched it. The film started the 3 day school on a high and inspiring note.
The summer school also included more events than simply the workshops. On the second day of the school, the weavers of the Old Beehive, Stewarts Hospital presented a piece of art which was commissioned by the NIID. The piece is a triptych which illustrates Dublin, and the experience of students coming to undertake the Certificate in Contemporary Living at Trinity College. These experiences are also interwoven with the story of the Salmon of Knowledge, an old Irish folk tale. The end result is an incredibly intricate and colourful tapestry which will hang in the offices of the NIID to inspire all those who see it.
A second event that took place on the second day was the launch of the ‘A Story to Tell’ web archive. This archive is the culmination of a 2-year project, funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, to collect the lifestories of older people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland. There are currently 10 stories available in text form on the website, with multimedia versions of these being constructed. The end result is an accessible archive of the stories of older people’s experiences spanning life in the institutions, through to services of the current time. The stories bring to life what it was like to grow up with a disability in Ireland 40-50 years ago. The depictions of rural life in the 1940’s and 1950’s are vivid, and the stories of living in institutions, and the subsequent moves to community living, are given an extra dimension through use of audio and video clips where personal accounts of these experiences can be heard.
The launch of the web site included some words of welcome from the Director of the NIID, Dr. Patricia O’Brien and Head of the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Prof. Robbie Gilligan. Zoe Hughes, project co-ordinator, outlined the story telling process, the value of which was then reflected upon by Ms. Marie Wolfe and Mr. Bill Roberts, both members of the Marie Curie Transfer of Knowledge advisory committee. Endorsing the Lifestories archive was Prof. Turnbull, who is a leader in the field of intellectual disability, and he spoke of the strong contribution that this archive will make to the understanding of the struggles and experiences of people with intellectual disabilities.
For more information on the project you can visit the archive by clicking this link.
On the third and final day, Ms. Marie Woolfe and Ms. Fiona Weldon, from the National Anti-Bullying Group, which is supported by the NIID, launched their brochure and spoke about their pioneering work in Ireland. The group is made up of people with intellectual disabilities and supporters. The group members are trained in facilitation, and run workshops around the topic of bullying, for people with disabilities, service agencies, and community based business organisations.
All of the events were attended by people with and without disabilities, and the overwhelming response from the delegates has been that there needs to be more conference activities like this. Instead of simply talking about inclusion, here it was, in reality. However, it is only due to the enthusiasm and encouragement of all the delegates that the 3 days were such a success.
- Photographs by Gerry Grace Photography