Sign up to put an end to dirty word

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By Angye Morrison

I had the privilege of attending the Special Olympics event at East Gadsden High School last week. It was cold and it was super windy, but it was awesome.

It’s been a while since I attended a Special Olympics event, and I had forgotten just how inspiring it is.

I was particularly captivated by this one young man who looked to be between 8 and 10 years old, who was using a walker to compete in a foot race. He didn’t have far to run/walk, but he was working as hard as he could, teeth gritted together, to make his way to the finish line.

The look on his face after he crossed the finish line was nothing short of triumphant. I was talking with one of our school board members, and witnessed this young man’s accomplishment from a distance. I wasn’t close enough to get any photographs of him – but the look on his face after he crossed that line is forever etched in my memory.

After attending the event, I decided to take a look at the Special Olympics Web site, just to see what’s posted that might be new or different. I found a campaign I had no idea was underway...something I haven’t seen covered by any media anywhere.

The campaign, with a day of awareness on March 3, was a movement to end the use of the negative word “retarded.” The slogan for the movement is “Spread the word to end the word.”

The campaign was created by college students Soeren Palumbo (Notre Dame) and Tim Shriver (Yale), and was intended to engage schools, organizations and communities to really and pledge their support at www.r-word.org, with a goal of reaching 100,000  pledges by March 3. But it’s not too late to register – the campaign continues throughout the month of March. As of March 4, there were 100,441 pledges, including mine.

Up to 3 percent of the world’s population have intellectual disabilities – that’s 200 million people around the world. It’s the largest disability population in the world.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are capable and enjoy sharing life experiences – listening to music, playing video games, watching the latest movies and having fun – as well as working together toward athletic excellence and mutually enriching one-to-one friendships as demonstrated constantly through Special Olympics and Best Buddies International. They can attend school, work, drive cars, get married, participate in decisions that affect them and contribute to society in many ways.

I encourage you to go online and pledge today...stop using the “R” word...as well as a lot of other demeaning words and phrases.

When you say those words, you don’t just hurt the person it’s aimed at...you hurt yourself and future generations.

E-mail your comments and suggestions to me at editor@gadcotimes.com.