Roosevelt High School students sign a banner, pledging to stop using the r-word.
How many times have you jokingly called someone a retard? To people with an intellectual disability and their families, it's no joking matter and they want you to stop using that derogatory word. March 6th is national pledging day and the South Dakota Special Olympics committee is asking us to take a stand, take the pledge and spread the word to end the word. Nancy Naeve Brown went to Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls to see why kids are vowing not to say the r-word ever again.
Before the Roosevelt Girls Basketball team boarded their bus bound for Rapid City and the State Basketball Tourney they made, what they call, a necessary pit stop outside the office to sign a big banner. They are pledging to stop using the word retarded, even in gist. They are all friends with the handsome man featured on the poster whose name is Scotty.
"I think it's really important for Scotty and everyone who ha a disability because it does hurt them, it hurts their family and it hurts the people that care about them. I was really happy it came to Roosevelt and everyone could sign it. I was the first one to sign it and I was happy about that," Roosevelt Senior and Scotty Briggs' friend Lauren Kunz said.
Jessica Kerher was instrumental in making his years South Dakota Special Olympics campaign to "Spread the Word to End the Word" bigger than ever. 64 banners are being signed in the region. 40 of them are in surrounding schools.
"We are raising awareness for people who have special needs and the use of the r-word, "Jessica said.
Jessica's motivation is her little brother Scotty Briggs who is a junior at Roosevelt.
"He is a large part of my life and our lives as a family, "Jessica said.
Scotty is very involved with Rough Rider football and basketball. He never misses a game and helps on the sidelines and on the bench. He just happens to have Down Syndrome but that doesn't define him.
Taking the pledge means think before you speak. Stop and think oh my goodness when I say the r-word to my friend in the hallway stop and think about that I'm referring to someone like Scotty, "Jessica said.
Jessica's hope is that we all replace the offensive and derogatory r-word with another r-word; RESPECT and end the hurt.
The "Spread the Word to End the Word" movement was established in 2009 during the Special Olympics World Winter Games. For more information go to www.r-word.org or contact the South Dakota Special Olympics at www.sosd.org or 1-800-585-2114.
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