Cardinal Cushing Centers, Special Olympics, Best Buddies and supporters from across the world will unite in support of a grassroots movement challenging the use of an outdated word that must be recognized for its hurtful impact on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs). On March 3rd, Spread the Word to End the Word awareness day will commence - engaging schools, organizations and communities by raising the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed),” and encouraging everyone to stop using the R-word by signing our pledge and encouraging their friends and families to do the same.
Following the successful launch of the awareness day by youth with and without IDDs in March 2009, Spread the Word to End the Word Day 2010 will continue the progress toward making the world a more accepting place for all people. Youth leaders are encouraging people to rally and pledge their support at www.r-word.org with the goal of reaching 100,000 pledges and also to show their support through merchandise at the new http://www.r-wordstore.com/.
Spread the Word to End the Word began as a grassroots campaign by youth who participated in the Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit in February 2009, held in conjunction with the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho. The campaign was driven by a united passion to promote the positive contributions people with IDDs make to communities around the world combined with a simple call to action – a pledge to stop using the R-word.
Motivated by their commitment to action, actor John C. McGinley from the hit television series Scrubs was inspired to join these youth and their dedication to stop the casual use of the R-word.
“Most people don’t think of this word as the language of hate, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends,” said McGinley. “I choose to believe that most of us are fundamentally good and that we’re just not aware that the word is offensive and that it hurts.”
Students and schools across the U.S. and around the world continue to unite in their challenge for everyone to think before they speak. On March 3, 2010, youth will coordinate simultaneous pledge drives, campaigns, and educational opportunities through Spread the Word to End the Word, engaging communities and advocates to encourage everyone to pledge to stop the use of the word at www.r-word.org.
Soeren Palumbo and “Timbo” Shriver (son of Special Olympics Chairman, Timothy Shriver), who together launched the Spread the Word campaign last year, said: "This campaign powerfully combines two things: the creative vision of a world accepting of all people and a youthful drive to realize this vision. It calls people to do more than volunteer and advocate; it inspires them to join, drive, and lead a social movement for the dignity of people with intellectual disabilities. And that's why it works."
Special Olympics and Best Buddies hope that this day becomes an annually recognized day to raise awareness and ultimately encourage acceptance and respect for people with IDDs in everyday lives.
The offensive usage of the R-word most recently made headlines as White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was quoted using this term. As a response to a letter written by Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Timothy Shriver regarding this, he and several other passionate advocates on this issue met with Chief of Staff Emanuel at the White House.
Special Olympics and Best Buddies encourage people to get involved and find out more information on Spread the Word to End the Word by visiting the official campaign website at www.r-word.org, or our Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/EndtheWord. Fans can also follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EndtheWord.
Spread the Word merchandise including t-shirts, buttons, bracelets and more can be purchased at www.r-wordstore.com in support of the movement.