Posted: Mar 6, 2013 7:39 PM by Simone DeAlba - MTN News
GREAT FALLS - A rally was held in front of the Civic Center in downtown Great Falls on Wednesday in support of the "Spread The Word To End The Word" campaign. The event was co-sponsored by Special Olympics Montana and Easter Seals-Goodwill.
The campaign aims to get schools and communities to take a pledge to stop using the words "retard" and "retarded."
Vicki Dunham of Special Olympics Montana said, "Derogatory language can be very hurtful and we hope that kind of awareness is growing every day, all year long. But we do take advantage of one day a year, the first Wednesday in March to really give it emphasis."
A group of supporters gathered to rally despite the frigid temperature to pledge their support, promising to uphold the fundamental rights of respect and dignity they believe everyone should have.
To those affected by a developmental disability it's much more than a word.
Among them is 20-year old Jacob Coleman; he's turning what some may perceive to be a disability into an ability by sharing his story, and although his journey may be a bit more challenging than for others, he's showing that it's what's in your heart that counts.
Coleman said, "I've been called the r-word once and it's not appropriate...it made me feel hurt inside my chest."
While some may not think the "r-word" is a big deal, to those affected it further isolates them from a community that they may already struggle to fit in with.
Danni Altenburg of Easter Seals-Goodwill said, "When somebody in the community uses the r-word, it offends and hurts and damages their self-esteem, they have enough obstacles to overcome they don't need that."
The website for the cause states:
The R-word is the word 'retard(ed)'. Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It's offensive. It's derogatory. Our campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.