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Terri Mauro
BY Terri Mauro

10 Things You Can Do to Help “Spread the Word to End the Word”

Every year since 2009, March 1 has been a special day to “Spread the Word to End the Word” — that is, participate in the Special Olympics campaign to abolish the R-word from everyday speech. Of course, you can spread that message every day of the year, but if you’d like to make a special effort on this day when it gets the most attention, here are ten things you can easily do.

1. Take the pledge.

If you haven’t yet taken the pledge to stop the R-word on the “Spread the Word to End the Word” site, make this the day. When you’ve pledged, tweet about it and post about it on your Facebook page. Spread the word to take the pledge to end the word.

2. Post items from the campaign site.


In addition to the pledge, the “Spread the Word to End the Word” site has a wide variety of resources, including graphics, photos, and videos like the one above. Share them on your social media.

3. Send a viral e-mail.

Also on the “Spread the Word to End the Word” site is an e-mail template [download] you can use to spread the word. Send one to all your friends who send you those chain e-mails and Facebook messages for way less important reasons.

4. Share an experience on social media.

Pre-made materials can be effective in spreading the word, but if you can share a story about how the R-word has hurt your child and family, you can bring the message home in a much stronger way. It’s easier to ignore the hurt the word causes in the abstract than the personal.

5. Confront that one person in your life.

Maybe you don’t need to send the message out far and wide. If there’s one person in your life who uses the word and you’ve been biting your tongue, take today to finally speak up. It may also be a good time to point out to people that adding “tard” to another word in a mocking way is just as bad.

6. Write a blog post.

Many writers will be taking to their blogs today in support of the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. If you join them, share the link in the comments here so we can all read it.

7. Talk to your kids.

Has your child heard the R-word, or been called that? Has he or she used that word, with or without knowing what it means? How does it feel, or how does it make other people feel? Use today as an excuse to open up that dialog with your child, perhaps using some of the videos from the “Spread the Word to End the Word” site. Your child can take the pledge too, or share a story on the site about how the word has affected him or her.

8. Find a new word.

If you encounter people who claim that “you can’t say anything anymore” when you challenge them to stop using the R-word, direct them to a list of 225 alternatives to the R-word. There’s really no excuse.

9. Change the conversation.

A New Kind of Special Needs MemeGiven how common it is for people to circulate inspirational messages and videos about individuals with special needs, you’d think that no one would be so disrespectful as to use the R-word. Challenge your online friends to pay more than lip service to the idea of inclusion, acceptance, and respect. In addition to the “Spread the Word to End the Word” efforts, sub out the standard “show you care about people with disabilities by copying this to your timeline” message with the graphic at right.

10. Carry it through the year.

Once you’ve spoken out about the need to end the R-word, or changed your own habits, don’t make it a once-a-year effort. Keep writing and sharing and reminding, on March 1 and every day after.

Terri Mauro

Written on March 1, 2017 by:

Terri Mauro is a former blog manager for Friendship Circle and Parenting Special Needs guide for About.com. She is the author of 50 Ways to Support Your Child's Special Education and The Everything Parents Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder. You can read more of her work on her website Mothers With Attitude and listen to her every weekday on the Parenting Roundabout Podcast. Terri has two children with special needs adopted from Russia in 1994.
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