“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 7 is the designated day to “Spread the Word to End the Word.” The word under scrutiny is the R-word, retarded.
“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,” according to the campaign’s website.
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, the campaign offers resources and suggestions to “Spread the Word to End the Word.” (Read: How to Turn Your Passion Into a Successful Pageant Platform)
“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 the campaign.
American Pageants promotes the cause
Titleholders often get involved with causes that promote kindness and community, and American Pageants has jumped on board to “Spread the Word to End the Word.”
“As you probably know, American Pageants 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, Marketing Director for American Pageants.
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 hurtful names, including the R-word.
“On March 7, 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.”
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,’” according to 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. (Read: How to Choose the Right Platform for You)
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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