The Spread The Word To End The Word Campaign and Why It's So Important
On March 31, 2009, the Special Olympics held their very first annual “Spread The Word To End The Word” National Awareness Day. Across the country, adults and students pledged to stop using the word “retarded” or any form of the R-word in their daily vocabulary. Since 2009, the National Spread The Word To End The Word Campaign Day has been officially changed to March 6 of every year.
The word retarded first originated as a medical phrase, “mentally retarded,” from the mid 1890’s which was synonymous for slow or delayed. This term was originally used as a replacement for other derogatory terms at the time like moron or idiot. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that this term took on an entirely different meaning used to insult people.
So why can’t we say the word “retarded" and what makes it a poor choice of wording? It’s the way the word has evolved and adapted into a negative way to make fun of those with disabilities. Instead of saying, “That’s so ridiculous,” people are now saying, “That’s so retarded” and are comparing it to those who have some form of disability or “delay.”
Individuals with disabilities are already facing discrimination and adversity within their communities; Oftentimes victims of sexual assaults, bullying, workplace discrimination, and sometimes even murdered for being who they are. Adding insulting and derogatory terms is just unnecessary and it’s extremely simple to erase the R word from every day use and replace it with another, more appropriate term.
Help us eradicate the R word by spreading awareness and advocating for those with disabilities. You can take the pledge to stop saying the word at Spread The Word.
Below are images and resources you can use and share via social media, email, your work place and schools to help spread the message.
Reynolds, Tammy (2019). History Of Stigmatizing Names For Intellectual Disabilities Continued. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/history-of-stigmatizing-names-for-intellectual-disabilities-continued/