By Emma Carone
“Spread the Word to End the Word Day,” commenced on March 3 to raise awareness about the degrading and hurtful uses of the work “retarded.”
Many UMW chapters such as Best Buddies and Special Olympics participated in pledge drives and campaigns. They asked schools, organizations and communities to be part of a conscious effort to stop using the R-word by making a pledge at their website, www.r-word.org.
Best Buddies is a non profit volunteer outreach program with 1,500 chapters worldwide devoted to creating job opportunities and fostering one-on-one friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Casey Dodrill, a freshman and active member of Best Buddies at UMW adertised for the event by printing out fliers, creating a facebook event and painting the rock.
“The main goal is for people to realize that the word is hurtful, even if they don’t realize it,” she said. “It hurts family members too, not just the people with the disability itself.”
The goal of both the groups is to reach 100,000 pledges throughout the month of March.
Members of Best Buddies set up a table on Ball Circle, handing out information to students on campus and encouraging them to pledge online.
“It was a great opportunity to spread awareness,” Chelsea Brown said, who is a senior and the Best Buddies club president. “We even had some people come tell us how happy they were that we were out there and spreading the word”.
Best Buddies also encouraged pledgers to sign a banner, which now hangs in the Washington Diner entrance of Seacobeck Hall. It was signed by 176 students and faculty, and serves as a promise to the community to be more aware and conscious about using the derogatory term.
Best Buddies regularly matches up students with adults in the community who have intellectual and developmental disabilities with the goal of creating long lasting friendships.
The club also sponsors monthly events for students and their buddies to get together and hang out, such as holiday dances, dinners and trips to Washington D.C.
Best Buddies is also holding a fundraiser on Monday, March 22 to spread the word about Best Buddies does, and to raise money for the causes they support.