Campaign Against the Use of the “R” Word

This PSA is a special post entry. I was asked by a friend if I would promote something on the sensitivity and harmfulness of propagating the use the “R” word. The request to continue to raise awareness comes from his niece who works with children who are affected with an “intellectual disability”.

I hope you will give this request very close consideration.

Today, March 6th, is the National Day of Awareness Campaign Against the Use of the “R” Word.

Why “intellectual disability” is replacing “mental retardation”
The R-word, “retard,” is slang for the term mental retardation. Mental retardation was what doctors, psychologists, and other professionals used to describe people with significant intellectual impairment. Today the r-word has become a common word used by society as an insult for someone or something stupid. For example, you might hear someone say, “That is so retarded” or “Don’t be such a retard.” When used in this way, the r-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the r-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful. Because of this, Special Olympics, Best Buddies and the greater disability community prefers to focus on people and their gifts and accomplishments, and to dispel negative attitudes and stereotypes. As language has evolved, Special Olympics and Best Buddies have updated their official terminology to use standard, people-first language that is more acceptable to constituents.

Q: What is Spread the Word to End the Word?
Spread the Word to End the Word is an ongoing effort to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed)” and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R-word. The campaign is intended to engage school organizations and communities to rally and pledge their support in helping to build communities of inclusion and acceptance for all people.

Q: When is Spread the Word to End the Word?
Spread the Word to End the Word holds its’ annual day of awareness on the first Wednesday of every March. However, people everywhere can help spread the word throughout their communities and schools year-round.

Q: Who supports the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign?
Spread the Word to End the Word is a youth-driven movement supported by Special Olympics and Best Buddies International.

Q: How and when was Spread the Word to End the Word created?
Spread the Word to End the Word was created by youth with and without intellectual disabilities who participated in the Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games. The motivation for the campaign was driven by a united passion to promote the positive contributions people with intellectual disabilities make to communities around the world combined with a simple call to action – a pledge to stop using a word – that also symbolizes positive attitude change and a commitment to make the world a more accepting place for all people.  The trademarked “Spread the Word To End the Word” annual day of awareness was created by Soeren Palumbo (Notre Dame class of 2011) and Tim Shriver (Yale class of 2011) who are recognized as co-founders of the campaign.

Q: Why is the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign important?
Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the word “retard(ed).” It is time to address the minority slur “retard(ed)” and raise the consciousness of society to its hurtful effects.

For more Information:

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