By Amela Nevaljalovic
“Spread the Word to End the Word” is a campaign proposed by the Special Olympics Committee and the campaign has been around for almost four years now. Miss Krumpelmann, special education teacher has been implementing it in Sterling High School for a long time. The “R” word is something that has been around our society for years and one campaign will not do much in stopping people from saying it but will draw attention to this problem and that there are people who do get offended by it.
“Unfortunately, students at Sterling High School have been using the “R” word a lot and they still are,” says Krumpelmann. “They are just not aware how offensive this is to kids with disabilities and this campaign is something that pays attention to this.”
Special education teacher Maggie Kilmer said, “Adults are very hidden from the word. I have a feeling that kids do not say it in front of the adults and that is why we do not know how much is used in the society,” she continued. “There is not supposed to be a ‘replacement word’ because we simply should not label people at all. Just treat them as they are.”
The things students could do in order to use this word not as often is to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Students can do this online at the www.r-word.org and just spread and share their stories. The site has over 700,000 pledges given by people from all over the country and why shouldn’t you be one of them to give a pledge. Students use the “R” word as an insult and often times it could be replaced with other words. Those words could be silly, stupid, airhead, fool, goof, etc. The point is there is always another way of saying things and people should focus on that instead of just saying the word randomly.
“Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it.” said Timothy Shriver Chairman of Special Olympics on their website.
One of the special education students, junior C.J Iekel said “It is very sad to hear people say that and very disrespectful. Kids should pledge because that would be nice act to do.’’
The first of March is the Spread the word national date and Miss Krumpelmann told students about the website and how to pledge about this campaign.
“I think that a lot of kids use that word and they should at least try using other words with similar meaning,said junior Jack Roys, special education student. “Students should pledge not to use the “R” word at all!’’
The pledge is act of respect and that is the only the “R” word that should be used in our dictionary. The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory to many students and people and others should be able to control what they are saying and in front of whom are they saying it.
It is important to talk about this issue and at least try to prevent younger generations from using it but the truth is the change is not easy. First, we have to start from ourselves and make a change with ourselves and then spread the word with our friends, family and community.
There are many things that Sterling High can do to make kids with special needs feel like they belong.
“Mentoring programs or organizing extra-curricular activities with kids with disabilities is something almost every student at Sterling High could do and at the same time help another student” said Krumpelmann.
These kinds of things would help students with disabilities feel like they are the part of this high school equally as the other students.