Yesterday was the day to Spread the Word to End the Word. I’ve decided that today is, too. And tomorrow. And everyday after that.
Rosebud is a member of the Best Buddies club at school, a social group comprised of students that gives special needs kids a place to feel welcome and appreciated in the school. They have social events and parties and meetings. Rosebud is paired with a “buddy” and they spend time together in and out of school. She also coaches Special Olympics. It is through her that I have learned of the Spread the Word to End the Word movement.
It’s not about being politically correct. It’s about respect – respect for these people, children and adults, who have challenges and strengths that differ from mine or yours. When we use the word “retarded” as an insult, as a synonym for stupid, it causes hurt to those whom are so completely undeserving of it. The R-word, when used in this way, is diminishing, injuring, and unnecessary.
There are people out there who will say “What’s the big deal? Don’t we have bigger things to be concerned about? It’s just a word.”
To those people I say: Sure, there are all kinds of important issues, some that seem too big to manage. But this one? This one is solvable. By “ending the word,” we can make a step towards affording the special needs population and their families the respect that they deserve.
And for those who think words don’t matter, watch this. It is a work of art.
Words carry weight, weight that can burden for long after the words were uttered or written. Words can be used as weapons and shields, or they can be an invitation into the discussion and used as a vehicle for change.
Rosebud spoke to our 3rd and 4th grade girls basketball team (I’m the coach. She’s my assistant) last night at practice about “ending the word.” These nine young girls sat on the gym floor and listened to my sixteen year old daughter speak about something that is important to her. They may not have heard every word. They may not have understood every word. But they got the message, and, hopefully, in the coming days, weeks, and years, they will spread it.