Sustainable peace for a sustainable future: UN International Day of Peace 2012
By Dàlia FERRAN for Northern Ireland Foundation
21 September 2012
The fifth annual official observance of Peace Day, organised by Springboard Opportunities, was hosted this year by the Rt. Hon Lord Mayor Alderman Gavin Robinson at Belfast City Hall.
The theme for this year’s event was “Sustainable peace for a sustainable future”.
Springboard’s Executive Director, Angila Chada, pointed out the importance of three key elements to transform the hope of sustainable peace into reality: leadership; the power contained within each of us; and to make every day a Peace Day.
The observance continued with the presentation of the Inspiration Awards nominated by Springboard, which launched this initiative in 2010.
The aim of the Inspiration Awards is to showcase examples of humanity — those who give back to society through the demonstration of positive role models and inspirational influence on others.
There were 4 awards presented this year:
The joint Youth Inspiration Award was presented to past Springboard participants Andrew Johnston and Jenna Clarke, recognised for the ability to inspire others due to the adversity that they have had to overcome in their lives.
Andrew’s citation was delivered by Louise Monaghan from Belfast City Council’s Youth Engagement Project, and Jenna’s citation was delivered by Chris Quinn Director of Northern Ireland Youth Forum.
The recipient of this year’s Community Inspiration Award was Alex Bunting, nominated by Alan McBride from WAVE Trauma Centre.
“He was a taxi driver that had the misfortune to be victimised through the ‘Troubles’, yet in my opinion he is one of the greatest peace builders I have ever known,” said Mr McBride.
Alex was seriously injured in a booby-trap bomb attack on his taxi in 1991.
He lost his right leg, sustained injuries to his other leg and suffered other shrapnel injuries.
Alex has since made a significant difference to the lives of people with disabilities.
The ‘Special Inspiration Award’ was presented to Mark Pollock, delivered by Prof. Sir Peter Gregson from Queens University, for his achievements to human resilience and his message of taking control and make things happen.
“Mark Pollock is not a man who will let himself be confined by anything,” said Sir Peter.
Mark lost his sight at 22 years of age, and after a life-threatening fall two years ago was left paralysed from the waist down.
But this has not stopped Mark from racing to the South Pole and competing against professional explorers like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Olympic Gold medalists and Special Forces personnel.
The Celebrity Inspiration Award was due to be given to Keith Duffy, but he was unable to attend.
The observance was one of a series of activities and events took place during the day, with a commitment to building peace, raising awareness of UN Peace Day, and to encourage people to rededicate themselves to non-violence where they live, work, learn and play.