The Best Buddies club will bring the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign to Stevenson University on March 9, 2017, from 5-7 p.m. in Rockland.
Best Buddies is an organization in which Stevenson students are partnered with a buddy, someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), for activities and events promoting friendship and acceptance.
Best Buddies International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement, creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships (on which the Stevenson chapter focuses), integrated employment and leadership development for people with IDD.
This semester Stevenson’s Best Buddies created a new e-board and has goals of collaborating more, gaining more male members, and spreading the mission of acceptance within the Stevenson community. “Best Buddies works to change the stigma of what it is to have a disability because people get to see that there’s more to it than what we know at the surface level,” said Brianna Blue, a member of Best Buddies.
According to Kaitlyn Madigan, president of Best Buddies, the month of March brings awareness to the Spread the Word to End the Word initiative which is to put an end to the use of the r-word, ‘retard’ or ‘retarded’ being used in a negative sense. The campaign hopes to spread awareness to people about the use of the r-word in an exclusive, offensive, or derogatory way.
For many years ‘mentally retarded’ has been the descriptive term used in reference to people with medical conditions that cause below-average intelligence and difficulty learning daily living skills. Today it has been changed to ‘people with intellectual disabilities’. Many people think it is acceptable to call someone or say something is the r-word without really understanding that no matter how it is used it is harmful, according to the Washington Post.
The campaign asks people to take a pledge to stop using this word and think about what it really means and whom it may effect. The R-word campaign is supported by Special Olympics and Best Buddies and over 200 other organizations from around the world.
The club will be present in the Rockland lobby on March 9 from 5-7 p.m. spreading the word, getting signatures, giving out pins, and allowing those who want to take the pledge to end the word.