Special Olympics, Best Buddies International, and supporters from around the world will unite today on the ninth annual Spread the Word to End the Word® Day to continue building awareness for society to stop and think about its use of the R-word and rally people to pledge respect toward all individuals, making the world a more accepting and inclusive place for all people.
A lot of progress has been made over the last nine years in promoting inclusion for all and changing attitudes and perceptions about people with intellectual disabilities. Teens, specifically, are standing up for inclusion and respect for all at school and in their communities. Adults are aware of the R-word but are not as active in promoting inclusive behaviors.
Although use of the R-word still exists and more acts of inclusion need to be encouraged, teens are having more connections with people with intellectual disabilities in school and in their neighborhoods, breaking down stereotypes and perceptions that exist for people with disabilities.
Several national studies from The Harris Poll conducted between 2008 and 2017 help provide a better picture of use of the R-word by adults and teens, inclusive behaviors and overall acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities.
“Teens embracing inclusion and advocating against the demeaning and dehumanizing use of the r-word are spreading a new conversation of acceptance, friendship, and empowerment,” said Soeren Palumbo, co-founder of the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign. “These agents of inclusion are re-writing the youth experience to no longer exclude people with intellectual disabilities but to include them as peers, teammates, and friends. The movement happening in our school hallways is gaining traction and pace to create a more inclusive society -- and we will all be better for it.”