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Help American Pageants Spread the Word to End the Word

American Pageants President, Sunny Hill, Spreads the Word to End the Word in 2016. Photo/American Pageants.
American Pageants President, Sunny Hill, Spreads the Word to End the Word in 2016. Photo/American Pageants.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” was a common childhood mantra for decades. Unfortunately, there are multiple words that hurt far worse than a stick or a stone and leave a mark, though hidden deep inside, on the person it’s said to.

In an attempt to better our relationship with each other, campaigns to remove the most hurtful words from our vernacular have taken shape.

March 1st is the designated day to “Spread the Word to End the Word.” The word in question is the R-word, retarded.

The Campaign

“The R-word is the word ‘retard(ed)’. Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory,” explained R-word.org.

To combat the issue of its use among adults and children, sometimes jokingly to friends when they do something not particularly in favor of popular opinion and other times to those with intellectual disabilities as a way to insult them, R-word.org offers resources and suggestions to “Spread the Word to End the Word.”

“Our campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions,” according to R-word.org.

Young Miss of Texas 2016 participating in "Spread the Word to End the Word 2016." Photo/American Pageants.
Young Miss of Texas 2016 participating in “Spread the Word to End the Word 2016.” Photo/American Pageants.

American Pageants Promotes the Cause

Titleholders often get involved with causes that promote kindness and community, and Miss Teen of America and American Pageants have jumped on board to “Spread the Word to End the Word.”

“As you probably know, Miss Teen of America has a strategic alliance with Special Olympics Minnesota and as part of that alliance, we are working with them on the ‘Spread the Word To End The Word’ Campaign,” said Paige Jensen, social media manager for American Pageants. (Read: Miss Teen of America Adds Age Divisions)

Its work with Special Olympics Minnesota and the Inclusion Events the titleholders host locally gives them a firsthand look and a chance to interact with those who are often called names including the R-word.

“On March 1st, all of our titleholders and staff will be making the pledge to end the R-Word,” Jensen said. “We did this last year and had a huge success; we anticipate that this year will be even better.”

Miss Teen of Texas 2016 participating in "Spread the Word to End the Word 2016." Photo/American Pageants.
Miss Teen of Texas 2016 participating in “Spread the Word to End the Word 2016.” Photo/American Pageants.

Get Involved

You don’t have to be an American Pageants titleholder to “Spread the Word to End the Word.” You can get involved yourself just by sharing your pledge on social media. (Read: Social Media Etiquette Guide for Titleholders)

“Our message is to spread the word and to help others can get involved by using this text: ‘I pledge #Respect through my words and actions. Will you? Pledge now to create communities of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities,’” said R-word.org.

You can visit R-word.org for more resources and information on how to “Spread the Word to End the Word” and make your school and/or community a more inclusive environment for those with intellectual disabilities.

Miss Teen of Louisiana 2016 participating in "Spread the Word to End the Word 2016." Photo/American Pageants.
Miss Teen of Louisiana 2016 participating in “Spread the Word to End the Word 2016.” Photo/American Pageants.

Going Forward

This word doesn’t have to be said to someone with an Intellectual Disability to be hurtful. It can be said to anyone and be hurtful to the person it was directed to and to those with Intellectual Disabilities.

Instead of choosing words with the intention to insult others, why don’t we alter our speech and instead find words that inspire them to learn, grow and develop even if it is at a different pace than your own?

Join American Pageants and R-Word.org to “Spread the Word to End the Word” today.

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