Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spread the Word to END the Word Day

Today is Spread the Word to END the Word Day.  In 2008, Special Olympics launched the website to combat the inappropriate use of the R-word.  

Many people think it is OK to use the word retard or retarded if they are not referring to an individual with a disability.  I admit, that before Ben came along, I said it about myself on occasion, when ever I did something stupid. Since I did not have a personal connection with anyone who had a disability, I did not realize how hurtful this word was.  

But the word does hurt.  It hurts a lot!  When you say the word in a derogatory way, it puts down people with disabilities, whether you are referring to them or not.   It says you don't want to be like them.  It makes them less.

Most people, when confronted (or educated), apologize right away and really try not say the word again.  But believe me, speaking up in person, is not an easy task.  There are times I have let it go because I did not think it would be worth the fight, and times that I turned on my Mama bear and took the lesson way to far.  It is much easier to sit behind my computer and type this than it is to confront someone face to face.  But I am committed to being an advocate for Ben, and because of that, I have to speak up.  

But there are some who when confronted, start talking about the right to free speech, about how every group wants certain words banned, and how we should not be so sensitive.   Do you have a right to say that word?  Sure.  You have every right to be a jerk and put down other people. People with disabilities are an easy target because they are less likely to defend themselves.  But individuals with disabilities have feelings, and are hurt by word as much if not more than everyone else. Families have feelings

If you are still confused.  Here is handy flow chart.  

There is an easy solution.  Don't be a jerk.  Don't say things that put others down.  Make them feel like more, not less. Be someone who helps people up. Be respectful.  Advocate for those with special needs when you hear someone say the word and ask them to stop.  Take the pledge  

Finally, if you still need convincing, this sheet from KC Down Syndrome Guild sums it up nicely. Click to make larger.