L'Arche and its visionary founder Jean Vanier will receive this year's Ford Family Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity in recognition of the organization's groundbreaking work in service of the poor and vulnerable around the world. L'Arche is an international federation of communities for people with disabilities that promotes their human dignity while celebrating the power of positivity and friendship.

True happiness is to "love and be loved," Vanier believes, and he has incorporated that precept into his philosophy of accompaniment and service. He calls the world to recognize the tremendous gifts of people who have all too often been rejected by society.

The L'Arche journey began 50 years ago when Vanier invited two men with disabilities to move from the institutions in which they were housed into his own home. Beginning with this one house in France, L'Arche has grown to become a worldwide network of more than 130 communities committed to sharing the lives of people with disabilities.

"There are few people in our world today who have inspired as many people to respect the dignity of every human being than Jean Vanier," says Rev. Robert Dowd, CSC, director of the Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, which presents the Award.

"In L'Arche communities, something extremely simple yet very powerful takes place," explains Dowd. "The so-called disabled and those with whom they live and work grow in awareness of their God-given value. This awareness encourages people to develop and share their talents and leads to authentic human development."

This year's award ceremony will take place on October 23, 2014, at the University of Notre Dame's Rome Global Gateway as part of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies Conference on Human Dignity and Human Development. The international conference will bring together academics and practitioners from around the world to explore different understandings of human dignity in the context of development—and the implications of a comprehensive respect for human dignity for the practice of development.

The Ford Family Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity recognizes substantial contributions to human development through research, practice, public service, or philanthropy. Recipients are honored for standing in solidarity with those in deepest need, supporting them to become agents of their own change.

Past recipients of the Notre Dame Award include social entrepreneur Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO and Founder of Acumen; development economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen; Partners In Health, whose cofounders Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl accepted the award on its behalf; and Patti and Ray Chambers, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy for Malaria.

Contact:  Rev. Robert Dowd, CSC at rdowd1@nd.edu or 574.631.7756



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