Spread the Word to End the Word Week

The word “retarded” is very controversial.
Some use it in the medical sense as a term for mental retardation. Others use it to joke as an alternative word for stupid. Yes, there are those people who use it as a term to degrade people with special needs. How can one word have such a spectrum of meanings?
Very respectable to very disrespectful.

Many people are unaware about this spectrum because they do not know how the word can be used in the disrespectful way, because they do not have special needs, which is understandable.

North Central Best Buddies is here to advocate for those with special needs, which will benefit the school’s students and have an impact on how they see the world. Spread the Word to End the Word week is about campaigning to end the r-word and its uses, but to also consider a group of people at this school and in this world that deserve respect.

Best Buddies had activities planned throughout the week of April 9th. On Monday, posters were hung in the student center.

These posters supported the cause and showed people there are other words to use than the r-word. On Tuesday through Thursday, buttons were passed out during lunch periods, along with a banner set up for people to sign to pledge against using the r-word.

On Friday, the banner was displayed in the student center, and remained for the following week. Videos supporting the campaign were played during the news on these days as well.

I had the chance to sit during lunches to pass out buttons and watch people sign their name. Most people were very supportive.

I heard things like “this is awesome” and “I have autism and I hate people using this word”. Administrators and cafeteria staff were also very supportive.

Then, there were still people who just walked by and did not support. One instance I heard someone say “Oh, it’s just the r-word” to her friend and then I saw her flick her wrist and walk away.

Senior Annie Terhune, who is president of Best Buddies, says she knows people grew up using the r-word as slang, but that the meaning has changed and it has become offensive. She says she has seen first-hand how harmful the r-word is and who it affects.

She hopes that by actively campaigning this week, people can learn the negativity that comes with the word.

Overall this week was good and successful. While some did not benefit from the exposure to the knowledge about the negative effects of the r-word, I witnessed many people who did.

For those of you who opened up your willingness of acceptance and consideration, or continued your already great mindset, thank you. As you may feel the world is so much brighter with acceptance and kindness even when it is for a cause that might not directly impact you.

For those of you who were not impacted right away by this week, or are still hesitant, just know that it is okay. In the future you may come across a situation or person that changes your heart.

Thank you, Best Buddies, for organizing such an important week. It cannot stop here. Remember we are all humans all the time, and the r-word is never ok to use in any circumstance.

For more information on the “End the R-Word” campaign go to https://www.r-word.org/ . If you want to learn more about the Best Buddies organization at North Central, or potentially join the family next year, follow the Instagram account @nchsbestbuddies.

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