Every year in March my school does a day called, “Spread the Word to End the Word”. This is a day used to celebrate people with disabilities. It is a day where cookies, bracelets and stickers are passed out to those that sign a pledge to stop the usage of the “R” word. I have always been an active member in not using the “R” word out of respect, but not everyone is as respectful. By having a day to stop the spread of the “R” word, people are making others aware of the harm they are doing by saying that word. “Spread the Word to End the Word” is a day of respect to those who don’t always get the respect they disserve.
I have always been extra aware of the “R” word. This is because I have a cousin with Down syndrome. My cousin’s name is Jeff (we call him Jeffy) and he is one of the nicest, most lovable men you will ever meet. I have known Jeffy my whole life and I have been aware that he has had Downs. Although Jeffy may not be exactly like many of us, he is still a human being that disserves nothing but the same respect he gives everyone else.
When people use the “R” word, I personally take it offensively. With some people, it just roles off their tongue and I am not afraid to say something when it does. However, some respond with, “I don’t even know when I say it.” That is crap. We all have filters and our brains think before we speak. It is not fair to give that as an excuse because it is not legitimate. We know what we say when we say it. Calling someone with a disability is degrading to them and hurtful to others that are affected by it. When people use the “R” word, they are calling the mentally challenged stupid, and that is not fair. They are the same as us; we all have problems and theirs are just more visible.
As I walked by the table with the pledge and I saw all of the names of people who pledged, it gives me a sense of relief. It makes me happy to know that people are willing to help make an effort to stop and watch what they say so people like Jeffy aren’t hurt by their words. My only hope is that they stick to what they say. As my mom always says, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Using the “R” word is not only degrading, but it is hurtful and everyone should make a change and not say it; they wouldn’t only be helping the challenged, but also themselves.