Representatives of the Special Olympics of Southern California challenged sophomore students during class meeting to stop using the word “retarded” as an insult.
Special Olympics Regional Director Laura Mayo encouraged students to become involved in the “Spread the Word” campaign, a movement to eliminate the use of the R-word because it is offensive and derogatory.
Mayo asked students to use their phones to pledge to not use the R-word on the “Spread the Word” website and to volunteer with the Special Olympics as assistant coaches to help children with disabilities.
“Once you meet and get to know all of our athletes, the only R-word you’ll be using is respect,” Mayo said. “Language affects attitudes, and attitudes affect actions.”
Special Olympics spokesperson Keegan Clark, who has an intellectual disability, also stressed the importance of eliminating the R-word as an insult.
“I think it is important to me because using it hurts people’s feelings because they say that word to them, and it makes them upset and saddened,” Clark said. “It really hurts people a lot.”