Businessman Denis O’Brien Opens Art Exhibition by Students of the TCD Course for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Posted on: 05 March 2008

“People with intellectual disabilities have the right to the same opportunities as all our citizens and TCD’s Certificate in Contemporary Living for people with intellectual disabilities is about opening up opportunities for education, participation and transition to meaningful employment”, stated businessman, Denis O’Brien on the occasion of the opening of a visual art exhibition by students of the Trinity College course for people with intellectual disabilities on Wednesday, March 5, 2008.

The art exhibition features visual art by current students and graduates of the pioneering Certificate in Contemporary Living, a two-year course run by TCD’s National Institute for Intellectual Disability (NIID), the first full-time course of its kind in the university sector in Ireland . As part of the course, students attend a Visual Arts Programme through which they develop their expressive abilities and communicate their ideas creatively under the guidance and expertise of an artist in residence. This programme was supported by funding from the Ireland Funds Young leaders. From these classes some remarkable artworks have been produced which will be for sale in the two-day exhibition. The themes of the exhibition cover issues of independence, inclusion, family and personal growth.

Commenting on the significance of the Certificate in Contemporary Living’s Visual Arts Programme, businessman, Denis O’Brien said: “The exhibition sees the culmination of the students’ work on the programme which will change perceptions about the skills and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities and open up exciting possibilities for new directions in their lives.”

On the occasion of the art exhibition a new NIID Alumni Society was also announced, providing students with continuing opportunities to stay in touch with each other, NIID as well as TCD. It will also allow for the continuing development of their skills and potential as part of Trinity’s Alumni community.

“A key aim of the NIID Certificate, especially through its Work-Life Programme is to ensure that education at third level for people with intellectual disability leads to appropriate employment opportunities. The newly launched Alumni Society will provide graduates with a network and follow-on support on leaving the course. It will also promote the continuing development of their skills and potential as part of the Trinity Alumni”, stated NIID Director, Dr Patricia O’Brien.

The NIID Director also outlined plans for collaboration with other education partners to develop its Certificate in Contemporary Living so that the same opportunities available in Trinity College can be provided to people with intellectual disabilities throughout the country.

In this context, Dr Patricia O’Brien acknowledged the many private individuals and philanthropic organisations which had provided essential support for the Institute in developing to this point, including The Special Olympics, the Atlantic Philanthropies, The Ireland Funds and Thomas Crosbie Holdings. She paid particular tribute to Denis O’Brien for his continuing support for the NIID and its students and his guidance in developing the education programme for the future.

The NIID has recently been successful in securing Government funding to begin developing the course with other education partners. The first phase of this collaboration involves UCC.