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Special Olympics to host End the R-Word Day

| Thursday, April 9, 2015

This week, Special Olympics Notre Dame is hosting their annual End the R-Word Day event as part of the awareness campaign Spread the Word to End the Word.

Junior Shannon Golden, a member of Special Olympics Notre Dame, said the End the R-Word campaign asks students to pledge not to say the “R-Word,” retard or retarded.

“We hope to raise awareness of how the R-word can hurt people and we want to promote respectful and inclusive language on the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s campus,” Golden said.

Senior co-president Laura Gardner said the club hopes to reach more students with the online pledging system it will use this year.

“We traditionally have pledge stations all over campus collecting signatures from members of the Notre Dame community as they pledge, in short: ‘As a member of the Notre Dame community, I pledge to end the hurtful use of the word retard,’” Gardner said. “We’re using an online platform this year, instead of the traditional banner signing. We’re hoping we will be able to reach a wider audience online.”

Gardner said Special Olympics Notre Dame is teaming up with other groups on campus, including Best Buddies, Special Friends and Super Sibs to promote the awareness campaign Spread the Word to End the Word.

Golden said Spread the Word to End the Word began in 2009 at the Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit.

“The Spread the Word to End the Word campaign was created by Soeren Palumbo [a 2011 graduate of Notre Dame] and Tim Shriver as a national awareness campaign to end the hurtful and derogatory use of the word ‘retard(ed)’,” Gardner said. “The goal is to highlight the dignity of people with intellectual disabilities and make the world a more positive place in the process. We hope to raise societal consciousness about the effect of our words.”

According to Golden, the campaign is meant to encourage people to watch what they say.

“It is an extremely derogatory and hurtful word,” Golden said. “The campaign hopes to create a more accepting and understanding attitude towards those with intellectual disabilities.”

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