An pledge drive as part of the national “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign will take place on campus Wednesday, March 2. The campaign, in collaboration with the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International, aims to promote awareness about intellectual disabilities and to take steps toward eliminating derogatory language about people with such disabilities. A key component of the campaign is events held nationally to ask people to pledge to eliminate use of the “R-word” from everyday language.
The event on campus will make the Colleges a part of the campaign’s network, which works to get schools, organizations and communities to support the pledge. Lindsey Hagan ’11 and Assistant Professor of Education Mary Kelly worked together to organize the event. Hagan heard about the movement last year and signed up on the pledge day.
“I got my family and friends involved after I signed up. I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to bring it to campus and get the word out there. Sometimes we use words without thinking about what they mean. The language we use can really offend and impact others,” says Hagan.
Students will be tabling in the Scandling Campus Center on Wednesday to have others sign the pledge, whether online or at the table. There will be both the national pledge and a campus pledge available for people to sign. Tabling will take place during lunch, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and again during dinner, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Community leaders will also be participating and volunteering their time. Once the pledge is signed, it will be hung up to continue promoting awareness of the need to eliminate the R-word.
“Awareness is a good first step to get people thinking about it,” says Kelly. By thinking about the actual word, people will hopefully stop using it and work to change their habits and attitude toward those with disabilities.”
Hagan notes they hope to make the pledge drive an annual event to continue to raise awareness.