President Michael D. Higgins attends launch of vibrant mural featuring people with Down syndrome

This morning, Down Syndrome Ireland’s Sligo branch launched a vibrant mural in Tubbercurry to mark the charity’s 50th anniversary. The event was attended by President Michael D Higgins, who is Patron of Down Syndrome Ireland. The 30ft mural features two people of different generations with Down syndrome.

The mural entitled Embrace Diversity was created by local artist Damien Moran and is part of several awareness building and fundraising activities that have taken place this celebratory year. The charities’ Upside campaign focuses on the four key aspects of life for a person with Down syndrome: health, education, employment and life in the community.

The Mural is situated in the middle of the town of Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo at the entrance to swift lane walkway, kindly donated by a local businessman and restaurateur Ahmal Hasan. Passers-by are encouraged to stop, look and share a picture of the mural on their social media channels using hashtag #theupside to drive awareness. Artist Damien is from the town, has a cousin with Down syndrome and took on the project based on his admiration for the work the Sligo branch do.

The two people who feature in the mural include 8-year-old Nova Clancy from Gurteen Co Sligo who attends Carn National school in Gurteen. Nova loves swimming and sport and is a member of her local athletic club (Corran AC) and the Eastern Harps U8 GAA team. Nova loves helping her grandad on the farm and finishing the hard work off with her favorite Marquetta Pizza and chips! Also featuring in the mural is 29-year-old Sammy Kratschmar from Walkinstown in Dublin who is a keen snooker player and loves football. Sammy also features on the front cover of Down Syndrome Ireland’s official report The Upside – Life with Down syndrome which highlights the gaps between the public’s aspirations and the reality for people with Down syndrome and their families in day-to-day life. 

Speaking on behalf of the Sligo branch, Co Chairperson Declan Cooke said: “This ‘Embrace Diversity’ Mural is a fantastic expression of the value that people with Down syndrome bring to their communities and their right to full inclusion and participation in Irish Society. We are honoured to have our Patron, President Higgins, to launch this today and would like to thank Damien for his excellent work, founding member Ann Killoran and the local businesses who have made generous donations including Ken Morley, K&B Supplies Tubbercurry and all the staff from the Occupational Therapy Department in Sligo University hospital.”

Barry Sheridan, CEO, Down Syndrome Ireland says “Following our murals in Cork and Dublin we are thrilled to see Sligo following suit and will hopefully capture the attention of the local community. We encourage all to visit theupside.ie where you can view positive stories and our 21 demands which aim to secure the same basic rights and opportunities as everyone to develop their capabilities to the fullest.”

President Michael D Higgins, who is a patron of Down syndrome Ireland said, “I would like to congratulate Down Syndrome Ireland on reaching its 50th anniversary and to thank all those who have given their time over the last half century to ensure that there are services and supports in place for those with Down syndrome and their families. I am delighted to be in Sligo for the official launch of this new mural which highlights the importance of embracing diversity and ensuring all those in our communities can participate and enjoy life to its fullest.”

Down Syndrome Ireland’s Sligo branch provides information, supports and activities to children, young people and adults with Down syndrome and their families. The branch is also committed to advocacy, self-advocacy and raising awareness in the community about the value that people with Down syndrome bring to their respective communities and their right to full inclusion and participation in Irish society. During the past 18 months, the branch has increasingly used technology to continue to support members and their families, develop new skills and most importantly keep people in touch during an immensely challenging time.

To find out more about The Upside campaign and to donate please visit www.theupside.ie.