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Spread the Word to End the Word Day

By Samantha Latos; News Editor
On March 13, 2018

Spread the Word to End the Word Day

Samantha Latos

News Editor

slatos@plymouth.edu

Spread the Word to End the Word is a national campaign that stands to end the use of the word retard. It’s supported by Best Buddies, the Special Olympics, and various other non-profit organizations.

Spread the Word to End the Word day was recognized on March 7th. Sarah Heath, a student at Plymouth State University, who works with the Best Buddies Headquarters in New Hampshire, created the related events this week on campus. There was tabling in the Fireplace Lounge in the Hartman Union Building, run by Sarah, and another PSU student, Lauren Boisvert.

Best Buddies is an organization that volunteers with people who have learning disabilities. There are different chapters, including elementary school, all the way to college. Best Buddies is new to campus, and the related events of this week on campus were created by Sarah. She got members, officers, and then buddies.

“We just made our matches from the Lakes Region Community Services. We have our peers match up with people with disabilities to build a one on one friendship,” Sarah said, “Our members are responsible for talking at least once a week and hanging out twice a month. It’s not a Big Brother and Big Sister type of thing, it is more of a friendship.”

This past week was all about spreading awareness of how hurtful the r-word is. It’s an exclusive word that equates mental disabilities with words like “stupid.” Describing something as retarded is so derogatory.

“We’re here to spread awareness to not say the word retard, or retarded,” Sarah said, “It’s horrible to people with disabilities, and it’s horrible for us too. When I hear it said I literally cringe.”

Lauren was inspired to join Best Buddies because of a little girl she used to babysit, who has a disability. “I found out that she was just like everyone else, and just because her appearance is different, that doesn’t mean she can’t be just like any other little kid,” Lauren said, “She taught me a lot.”

Best Buddies wants to bring people together, so that no one feels alone or inferior. “We want to have people realize that they are not different just because they have a disability, “Lauren said, “Once I heard that they were ha ving the program here I thought ‘I want to do this.’”

Best Buddies has exciting events coming up in the New Hampshire area, including “On May 12th, we have a friendship walk. It’s all of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont,” Sarah said, “That’s happening at the State House Grounds in Concord.”

Anyone who is interested in donating or reading more about it should check it out at https://www. bestbuddiesfriendshipwalk.org/ne- whampshire/.

“We’re trying to get as many people as we can to rally for best buddies, to add inclusion to communities,” Sarah said. Events like these bring people together, and celebrate new friendships.

Best Buddies is new to campus, and has lots of room to grow. “This was our rst year doing this, and having buddies, and it is so great,” Lauren said, “You feel great as a person, knowing you can make a friendship. It’s something you’ll never forget.”

Sarah and Lauren are hoping to make Best Buddies at PSU an annual event. Getting involved with Best Buddies enriches the lives of everyone involved.

It’s important to remember how offensive the r-word is. The key to successfully ending the use of the word retard is to carry it with you always, not just days like Spread the Word to End the Word day, or on World Down Syndrome Day, coming up on March 21st.

In honor of Spread the Word to End the Word Day, everyone is encouraged to pledge not to say the r-word on the r-word.org site, found at https://www.r-word.org/. While taking the pledge, one is required to ll out a name and age section. There is also an option to put a school. That’s one great way to represent PSU. Pledging will help you feel good about yourself, which starts a domino effect of positivity that will reflect well on the Plymouth community.

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