This coming Wednesday – as with the first Wednesday of each March – is R-Word Day. It’s a day to raise awareness about the hurtfulness that comes from the labeling and exclusion of people with Intellectual Disabilities. The campaign shines a light on the needs, as well as the capacities, of three percent of the world’s population, almost 200 million people.
Spread the Word to End the Word is a movement led by young people around the world who are taking a stand and raising awareness of the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word and are helping encourage others to think before they speak. They want everyone to know that the use of that R-word, “retard” or “retarded,” is hurtful and painful. Use of this label is bullying and hate speech, whether it is intended as such, or not. To people living with Intellectual Disabilities, it feels as cruel and offensive as any other slur.
A tangible goal of R-word Day is to invite people to sign the pledge to eliminate the use of the R-word. Over 500,000 people have taken the pledge. www.R-word.org
Special Olympic’s Project UNIFY®, a sponsor of R-Word Day, is built upon the premise that in order to have the greatest impact the change needs to start with young people. Project UNIFY brings youth with and without intellectual disabilities together through education and sports and related initiatives that provide them with the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to create and sustain school communities that promote inclusion. Project UNIFY is already in over 3,100 schools in 45 states across the country and many of those schools support Spread the Word to End the Word efforts through running pledge stations or holding student rallies to promote inclusion.
Language affects attitudes. Attitudes impact actions. Make your pledge to choose respectful people first language at www.R-word.org.