Press Release: 03-05-2012
Students at Waukegan High School’s Brookside Campus are doing their part this month, to snuff out the use of the “R-Word” all over campus.
As part of the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, students are pledging to no longer use any variations of the word “retarded.” The campaign, which is recognized nationwide, strives to build awareness of the word’s hurtful and painful connotations. Most people don’t think of this word as hate speech, but it can be viewed that way to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and friends.
At WHS Brookside Campus students are showing their support for the movement by signing a giant banner, as well as purchasing special T-shirts to commemorate the day, which is celebrated on March 7. Proceeds from T-shirts benefit the Special Olympics.
The idea was brought to WHS by special education teachers Ms. Chelsea Rogers and Ms. Jennifer Taylor, who both recognized the day on their college campuses. The teachers say students all over the country, whether they are in elementary school, high school or college, use the “R-Word” far too often in casual conversations.
“We hear a lot of students use the word in a negative connotation – usually as a synonym for slow or stupid. We want to raise awareness of how hurtful that word is so that students take time think about it,” said Ms. Rogers.
In the first several days of promoting the campaign, dozens of students have bought T-shirts and several hundred have signed the special banner. As the campaign goes on, students are sharing their negative experiences with the “R-Word” over the school intercom, and some classes are taking time to discuss the slur during classroom lessons.
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Ms. Jennifer Taylor (L) discusses the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign with a student. A special banner with student signatures hangs in the background.