“Spread the Word to End the Word sounds pretty simple, but to the more than 100 children and adults living in our community with an intellectual disability, this is an ongoing problem,” stated Cathy Morris, of the Redwood Falls Special Olympics.
And what word would that be?
Originally, the term “mentally retarded” was a medical term. It was used by physicians and psychologists to describe specific clinical conditions in some of their patients.
But times change, and over the decades the terms “retarded” and “retard” took on whole new meanings — mean meanings.
The word is commonly used to slander people without intellectual disabilities, and those with them.
Enter the national “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign, created by a couple college students in 2009, and since promoted by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies organizations.
Morris continued, “(Area residents with intellectual disabilities) endure being called derogatory names such as “stupid”, “dumb”, and “retarded”, as well as being pointed at in mocking ways or being laughed at and ridiculed.
“These children and adults are no different than anyone else. They all have feelings, and just because they may not react to negative comments, the pain that is cause by them lingers for a long time.”
The first Wednesday in March is designated as a day to stand up for all people who are victims of being called hurtful names or being bullied.
“I encourage each one of you to commit to stand up and show your support as families, organizations, and businesses,” said Morris.
“As a community, people need to unite and put a stop to all the hurt being caused to individuals with an intellectual disability from other children and adults.”
To promote the effort not just on March 6, but year round, the local Special Olympics is selling t-shirts with the “Spread the Word to End the Word” phrase on it.
Said Morris, “Shirts can be ordered for $10. Put your name and phone number, shirt size, and payment (please make checks to the Special Olympics) in an envelope and drop them off at the REM office next to P&K.”
For more information about the campaign, or to have a Special Olympics representative speak to your group, call Cathy Morris at 507-627-8518.