first_imgWednesday, members of Special Olympics Notre Dame and Best Buddies, two clubs dedicated to serving individuals with intellectual disabilities, will call upon their fellow students to participate in “End the R-Word Day” by signing banners and taking a pledge to stop using “retarded” as an offensive term, Special Olympics Notre Dame co-president and junior Laura Gardner said.Kelly Konya | The Observer “End the R-Word Day is a day about raising awareness about the dehumanizing effects of the word retarded for those with intellectual disabilities,” Gardner said. “The movement was started by Soeren Palumbo, who was a Notre Dame grad, and Tim Sharver from Yale in 2009.”Special Olympics Notre Dame co-president and senior Mo Connelly said using the word “retarded” often seems harmless but in fact offends people with intellectual disabilities by making them feel marginalized and inferior.“Many people often say, ‘it is only a word,’ but that is just not the case,” Connelly said. “In our society today, the R-word is used in a context that relates individuals with intellectual disabilities with something bad or wrong.“In order for everyone to truly practice acceptance and tolerance in our culture, the first step to take is to promote inclusive language that does not set apart a group of individuals as any less of a person than another.”Gardner said events throughout the day will draw attention to the “dehumanizing” effects of the R-word on individuals with intellectual disabilities.“Basically it invalidates their humanity,” Gardner said. “They are intelligent; they’re sisters, fathers, sons, friends. It’s a slur that puts people down.”Members of Special Olympics Notre Dame will be stationed in the LaFortune Student Center, the Hesburgh Library and at both dining halls during meal times and will ask students to show support for End the R-Word Day. Best Buddies will also host events to raise awareness, Gardner said.“We’re doing banner signings for students on campus to pledge with their signature to stop using the word retarded in a derogatory way, and Best Buddies is having their fashion show with models from a local center,” she said.Palumbo, a former Notre Dame Special Olympics president, initiated the first-ever “End the R-Word Day” while he was still a student at Notre Dame, Connelly said.“[Palumbo] decided to announce it as he was presenting for a Special Olympics event over five years ago,” Connelly said. “Luckily the idea spread like wild fire, and he was able to work with Special Olympics National to begin the ‘Spread the Word’” campaign and truly jump start this magnificent cause.”Connelly said students who are not involved with Notre Dame Special Olympics or Best Buddies should still participate by taking the pledge to stop using the word retarded.“Sign our banners and encourage others to do the same,” she said. “Most importantly, remember that our campaign is a year round effort to end the R-word. Have the courage to remove it from your vocabulary, and encourage others to do the same.”Contact Lesley Stevenson at        [email protected]: best buddies, disabilities awareness, notre dame best buddies, notre dame R word, R word, spread the word to end the wordlast_img read more


first_imgLocal council pension funds from London and Manchester have created a £500m (€654m) investment vehicle for infrastructure and alternative assets, amid increasing collaboration between London and Northwest England.The special purpose vehicle will be jointly owned by the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) and the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) and look to boost the funds’ below-benchmark allocations to alternatives.The £13bn GMPF invests £130m in the asset class, around £260m below its target allocation, while the £4.9bn LFPA currently allocates £170m (3%).Both pension funds will put £250m into the fund, which they said would have a fairly liberal definition of infrastructure, including property, utilities, listed infrastructure and core and non-core assets. The co-owned vehicle will see the funds analyse opportunities and make investment decisions jointly using pre-existing internal capabilities and expertise.Councillor Kieran Quinn, chair of the GMPF, said his fund had been doing deals on a smaller scale for two decades and that investors felt able to approach it with opportunities.“What is different about this fund is it takes away one of the constraints to [investing in infrastructure],” he said.“When the chancellor goes seeking resources to invest in UK plc, he rarely knocks on pension funds’ doors. So what we are trying to say here is that we can do things differently and scale up the opportunities.”Chief executive of the LPFA, Susan Martin, said the vehicle would be able to seek out appropriate risk/return investment opportunities using the shared resources of the funds.“£500m is a game-changing amount,” she said. “Both funds already have opportunities brought them, so we can share that deal flow and assess it without resources. I would imagine we would get more interest, and be more attractive, working together.”The vehicle will look to make investments over the next four years, with a Manchester and London focus, but assessing all viable opportunities.Quinn added: “There are some bigger transnational schemes we think we can assist with.“It is about being able to knock on the door. Some say you cannot knock on the door with £500m, but we are saying we have the resources to start ensuring people look to us for solutions.“That might be about creating a larger entity by encouraging other pension funds to come forward and join us.”GMPF neighbour, the Lancashire County Pension Fund, and the LPFA also recently announced an asset-liability management partnership, creating a £10bn investment fund.This will see the two pension funds pool assets and jointly manage liabilities while merging governance and administration.Martin said the entirely separate arrangement with Lancashire was significantly more complicated than the infrastructure fund.“As part of the pooling of the assets [with Lancashire], the LPFA and GMPF tie-up will come through the asset-liability management,” she said. “But they will be separate organisations.The LPFA was originally one of 10 founding members of a similar fund led by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF).However, the London fund left the Pensions Infrastructure Platform (PIP) citing cost issues and expected risk/return profiles.The BAE Pension Fund and the BT Pension Scheme also left for similar reasons.“This is different in many ways to the PIP, as it is not setting up and resourcing a new company,” Martin said.“It is taking current expertise and doing things direct and as co-investment. The risk/return is slightly different.”The LPFA, GMPF and Lancashire all advocated greater collaboration between local government pension schemes (LGPS) in a recent government consultation.The UK government is expected to shortly announce its decision on whether to mandate LGPS funds to passively invest all listed assets using collective investment vehicles.Quinn added: “The challenge that was set by government was collaboration, and how we have met that is by making that significant statement that we are up for this.”last_img read more