Friday, March 20, 2009

Special Olympics takes on use of 'R-word'

(CNN) -- An unexpected and sudden spotlight on the Special Olympics, an organization that for more than 40 years has served and honored those with intellectual disabilities, comes less than two weeks before the nonprofit launches a new campaign: Spread the Word to the End the Word.

March 31 is being billed a "national day of awareness," a call to Americans to recognize and rethink their use of the word "retard," or as the organization would prefer, the "R-word."

"Most people don't think of this word as hate speech, but that's exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends," a statement about the campaign reads. "This word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur."

The push for increased respect is being spearheaded by young people who are collecting pledges or vows to not use the word at, and are leading online discussions on how people can get involved in this cause.

So far, across the country, 300 schools have already committed to hosting rallies on March 31, Special Olympics President and CEO J. Brady Lum said.


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