By Haley Lynn Butler | firstname.lastname@example.org
Stupid, dumb, silly and senseless are just a few words that we can use to describe people and situations that are not of the upmost intelligence.
A word that many fit into this category of adjectives is “retarded.” However, the Flagler College on-campus club, Best Buddies, a club that works with intellectually disabled youth (whom they call “buddies), is educating and advocating against the use of this word.
On March 6th, the club participated in National Spread the Word to End the Word Day, which was a day dedicated to encouraging others to pledge against using the “r-word” and to bring awareness to it’s hurtful nature.
Those who pledged did so by stamping a thumbprint somewhere on the word “respect,” which was largely printed on a banner made by Best Buddies members. Each thumbprint was followed by a signature somewhere in the white space of the sheet, resulting in a fully covered banner that proved the support of fellow students and faculty.
Club members and their buddies then used the banner as they march through campus and St. George Street, chanting the Best Buddies cheer and handing out informational flyers to anyone they passed by.
Once used to describe individuals with mental disabilities, the term “retarded” has become a form of slang. However, Best Buddies argues that the term is derogatory.
In addition the degrading manner the term may hold, it is also politically incorrect. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed Rosa’s Law, which states that the phrase “mentally retarded” was to be replaced with the term “intellectually disabled” by federal statues.
“Even if people say, ‘That’s really hard, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stop using that word,’ we just try to bring awareness for it, so that maybe it will come to their mind when they go to use it again,” Best Buddies co-president Alyssa Pasiewicz said.
Dana Bertolino, a nonmember who participated in the walk, was happy to be a part of the cause. “I thought it was a really great idea, with so many tourists in town,” Bertolino said. “And it’s a really important message to spread.”
This is the club’s first year participating in Spread the Word to End the Word Day, and although mostly club members and buddies participated in the walk, Pasiewicz said she was pleased with the reactions they received.
“This is our first year doing this, so it’s really exciting,” Pasiewicz said. “Maybe next year we’ll be able to raise more awareness and have more people come, but it’s a good start.”
For more information about Spread the Word to End the Word, visit http://www.r-word.org.