“Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” has become a quote that may not apply to the colloquial language of modern times. Â Certain words really can and do hurt people sometimes.
The Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign is an international campaign launched to try and get people to stop using the word “retarded” in a derogatory manner. By spreading this message they hope to end the word and constitute respect instead.
Kelsey Adams, a senior at the University of Rhode Island and currently the vice president of the Best Buddies Club at URI, has been part of the program since her freshman year of high school. The Best Buddies program “…is an organization on campus to build one on one friendships with individuals who do have disabilities. We are campaigning Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, which is the actual day of the event, for the international Spread the Word to End the Word campaign,” Adams said.
The Best Buddies program is a branch off of the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign because it is all about providing individuals with disabilities friendships outside of their typical circle, consisting usually of just family members and paid staff members.
To participate in this program you can be an associate buddy, which would mean that a person is involved in the organization by supporting it, helping at events and fundraising for the campaign as a whole. This type of involvement is less of a commitment than what Adams is a part of. Adams said that she is considered a peer buddy.
“A peer buddy means you basically get paired one on one with an individual with a disability. You are required to do an event once a month with your buddy as a whole group and then you have to meet with your buddy once a month outside of URI. In addition to this, you have to call them or communicate with them at least once a week. It’s more of a commitment.”
While these two positions in the program are both commitments, the group as a whole was extremely enthusiastic about the campaign. Their enthusiasm helped on March 2-4 when members of the organization were standing in the Memorial Union asking people to sign their names and pledge to stop using the “R” word and instead use the word respect.
With these signatures the Best Buddies will “contact the headquarters of Rhode Island and tell them how many people [they] got in total to pledge to not use the word. [They] also typically hang up these posters of the signatures at [their] next event for all the buddies to see how many people are using the word respect instead of the R word.” In addition to this, Adams adds, “[The buddies] love it; They get so excited to see all the signatures and to see how many people care about them and respect them.”
If you missed the Best Buddies in the Memorial Union and would like to pledge to stop using the “R” word, you can always log on to www.r-word.org and pledge alongside the 531,000 people who have already done so.