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Project UNIFY Op-Ed

We fight to end the R-Word every day. We all know it’s how the world should be, but many times, those with no connection to our athletes have trouble understanding why it’s so critical.They read it in laws. They hear it used every day by their friends. They say it in their everyday conversation. Thanks to the passing of Rosa’s Law in the Senate earlier this month, the first of these three has been eliminated and we are one step closer to achieving the respect, dignity, and acceptance of those with intellectual disabilities.

Samantha Huffman (left) with Sara Wolff at the 2010 National Youth Activation Summit.

For all of us involved in the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign, we know how difficult our fight is.  And it’s even harder when the government is using the language we’re fighting to end.  In school, we learn that being “politically correct” means using the language that our government uses.  So how can we be fighting for the elimination of the R-Word in everyday conversation if our government is still using it in the laws they pass?

In Soeren Palumbo’s famous speech, he states, “In an era of such political correctness, why is it that ‘retard’ is still okay?  Why do we allow it?”  To many, their answer would be that using the R-Word is politically correct, because our government uses it in their laws. 

While we know that this isn’t true, many others don’t.  They use these laws as an excuse to use the R-Word.  They use these laws as an excuse to hurt someone else.  But today, thanks to Rosa’s Law, the R-Word has been eliminated in health, education, and labor law.  Today, people can no longer use the law to hurt someone else.  Today, we are one step closer to reaching our goal of ending the use of the R-Word."

Samantha Huffman is a member of the Youth Activation Committee and a Sophomore at Hanover College in Indiana.