March 7th: The Day to End The Word

The R-word that is.  That's right, March 7, 2012 will be the annual day of action focusing on bringing about awareness and ending the use of the R-word aka retard.  You all know how deeply I feel about people using this word in an offensive, derogatory manner. If you have no idea how much I am irked by the R-word, you can read my R-Word Rant here.  I am actually rather sad that we even need a day to focus on ending the inappropriate use of this word.  However, I am hopeful because across schools and several organizations awareness will be brought about. People, especially our youth, will be informed. I know that things will not change over night. I am not that naive.  Yet, I do know that over time, with more awareness and education, a change will be made.

*I have seen fellow bloggers stamp "retard" across photos of their children to send a powerful message.  It does send such a strong, poignant message, yet I am not brave enough to stamp that label across my daughter's face. However, it really does make a person think and so, please visit two such blogs here  and here*
Would you call this innocent little girl a r*tard?  Would your children?  Because, when I hear that word, my little girl being cruelly labeled pops into my head.

I am begging you to please, recognize that words truly do hurt people.  To please remove the word r*tard from your vocabulary.  To educate your children and family members.

It is so easy to join the cause and to speak about against disability slurs, not just the r-word by joining Stop Disability Slurs. or follow us on Twitter @SDSMovement.

To learn more about this day of Action  (sorry about the advertisement, it happened when I pasted the article to this post.):

March Brings Annual Day of Action to Stop the R-Word: Mother’s Perspective

We all remember the old rhyme, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Well, we all know this was just something our parents told us when things were rough and kids were picking on us. However, we all now know that this is not the case. Words can be hurtful and can do a lot of damage. This is the message behind the Special Olympics campaign to end the use of the R-word (retard or retarded).
The campaign, known as "Spread the Word to End the Word," has spread all over schools, college campuses and even the corporate world. The website called "R-Word" was started back in 2008 by the Special Olympics to combat the usage of the word in everyday language.
The idea of the site is to provide a place where people can come and pledge to eliminate the use of this derogatory term. As of the time this article was written, the site had 239,024 online pledges.
Now, the term retarded was not always known as a derogatory term. It began as a medical term (mental retardation) to describe individuals with intellectual disabilities. As someone who worked with disabled individuals for many years (I was a Special Olympics coach 20 years ago), the term was used frequently back then. However, over the years, the word became synonymous with "dumb" or "stupid" and was used as a derogatory term by people referring to people without a clinical diagnosis of mental retardation.
This year, March 7, 2012 will be the annual awareness day for the campaign. Many schools and organizations have events planned across the country. This is a great time for everyone to visit the site and take the pledge. While we have seen children commit suicide all over the country over the last few years due to name-calling and bullying, ending terms like the r-word is essential.
Unfortunately, that old rhyme was wrong and these words can do a lot more damage than we ever thought was possible. My oldest son was a part of this program at his high school last year before he graduated and I believe it is a campaign that should be encouraged in all schools. While many people don't even realize they use the term and don't mean anything by it, it can cause pain to others. Take the time to visit the site today and sign the pledge. Let's do our part to eliminate the hate this year.
Deborah Braconnier is a former athlete and 20 year medical professional. Working now as a freelance writer and Featured Contributor for NFL and Olympics, she brings her love for both sports and the medical field together in her writing. Follow here on Twitter @fwcdeborah.