March 15, 2017 | North America: Pennsylvania

Only R Word is Respect

By Madison Mackynen

Our school held the Spread the Word to End the Word awareness day in March.View Story Our school held the Spread the Word to End the Word awareness day in March. The next day, all the kids started to talk about the R-word and how it shouldn't be used. I pledged and haven't said the r-word except RESPECT. When I hear kids say it in front of the special need kids, I stand up and speak up. I hate that word; it hurts a lot of people.

About Madison Mackynen: I played Bocce with my team and i loved every second of it, no one judged me for doing it. I loved having an experience, with these love able kids.
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March 07, 2017 | North America: Pennsylvania

"But that's not how I mean it!"

By Cheyenne March

"I don't mean it that way!" "It's a joke, come on." "You're taking it too seriously!"View Story "I don't mean it that way!" "It's a joke, come on." "You're taking it too seriously!" That's the response after I tell someone to not use the word they did. All my friends and family know why this means a lot to me. There are few things that I don't put up with, and that is one of them. Here's why. My Aunt is has an intellectual disability. She has such a bubbly and sweet personality. She is her own person, and is put into a box with everyone else in the world who is "Not Normal." She loves mac 'n cheese. She loves to bake sugar cookies with my mom. She loves birds. She loves to talk on the telephone. She has feelings, and even if she is different, she is still a person. She is no less deserving of basic human respect than you, just because her brain works differently. I am taking a step to end the R-Word in my community, and in the lives of those around me. Words hurt, but it hurts the people who are around to hear it used against someone who you'd consider different.

About Cheyenne March: Cheyenne is 18 years old, and a senior in High School. Planning to attend a university in Virginia, she is pursuing a double major in special education and elementary education.
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March 01, 2017 | North America: Pennsylvania

That Word.

By Eileen P. Falchetta

From left to right: Joe, Dad Vincent, Eileen, and other sibling Vince.

I have often heard people refer to things as that word, and then looking at me, and going “Oh Eileen I’m sorry, you know what I mean.”View Story In my own social circles, I have often heard people refer to things as that word, and then looking at me, remembering where I work, or my personal situation, and going, “Oh Eileen I’m sorry, you know what I mean.” Most people who use it do not understand the history of the word, and how hard it took people with disabilities and their advocates to abolish that word from various policies in government. When the words ‘mental retardation’ (MR) was first introduced in the early 1900s, it was a way to classify people with developmental disabilities of varying degrees. As years passed, it was visible that this terminology did not make sense. People that were diagnosed with MR in their early stages were all placed under a label when they were all so different and some of the most intelligent people on this planet! Fast forward 2010, it was time to put these amazing groups of individuals into a more positive light, without a label that held negative connotation that often caused many misunderstandings about the disorder. On October 5, 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama officially signed a law to remove the terms removes the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policy and replaces them with people first language “individual with an intellectual disability”. In my family, my youngest brother sometimes is classified as a little different, but growing up my parents taught us to treat everyone equal. So we treated Joe that way- but of course, bullies rendered their ugly heads. I remember last summer getting a text from my brother Joe while he was at work. The conversation went something like this: Him: “I hate when people use that word.” Me: “What word?” Him: “I am a person. There are many other words they can use.” My heart sank, my blood boiled, as I replied as any good sister would try to “That word? There is other words they can use- special, unique, hard-working, persistent, and beautiful, inside and out."

About Eileen P. Falchetta: I have worked at a nonprofit that works with people with disabilities and autism for over 8 years in the Communications Department. Most days are spent writing and advocating.
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February 27, 2017 | North America: Pennsylvania

Keeping Hope Alive

By Delilah Henry

Coming from a family of compassion, I had the opportunity of learning that what sets us all apart is what makes life beautiful.View Story I grew up with a mom who works as a caregiver for adults with Down syndrome. I myself have multiple mental disorders, so i know how it feels to be labeled or called names because of it. Coming from a family of compassion, I had the opportunity of learning that what sets us all apart is what makes life beautiful. I recently started a club at my school called Expressions Through Wings to raise mental health awareness. I want to expand my club into an organization and make a huge impact on people's lives.

About Delilah Henry: I just want to help support those in need.
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February 27, 2017 | North America: Pennsylvania

Special needs don't define! My friends deserve better

By Theckla

I don't want her to be judged by the fact that she has special needs. I want everyone to judge her by the content of her heart.View Story I have a dear friend with special needs. When I first met her I didn't know what to think of her. Honestly I never really knew a person with special needs before I met her. However I got to know her and discovered that she is one of the sweetest, nicest people I know. I want everyone to know that she is FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE BY HER CREATOR. I don't want her to be judged by the fact that she has special needs. I want everyone to judge her by the content of her heart which is beautiful. It breaks my heart that some people will never try and be friends with her. She has such a positive attitude with everything. She should be an inspiration for all of us. I love her dearly and so do all of my friends. She's such a sweet fashionista so sassy and smart. She knows that God has a plan for her life. So please know that whenever you make fun of someone with special needs know that their special needs don't define them. What defines them is the fact that they are a special person!

About Theckla: My name is Theckla. I am an Orthodox Christian. I'm Greek, Arab, Romanian, and Russian. I love dance and reading. I love all my friends including those with special needs. I'm Pro-life forever!
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February 27, 2017 | North America: Pennsylvania

BREAK THE CYCLE!

By Eric Fisher

We need more role models these days to educate our youth and break the cycle of using hurtful words.View Story We need more role models these days to educate our youth and break the cycle of using hurtful words.

About Eric Fisher: Future Elementary P.E. Teacher
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February 09, 2017 | North America: Pennsylvania

Our awful neighbors

By Alicea Coopwood

We have some pretty awful neighbors. The mother and her teenage children decided it was okay to scream the r word in the faces of my 6, 8, and 10 year olds because my 10 year old has ADHD.View Story We have some pretty awful neighbors. The mother and her teenage children decided it was okay to scream the r word in the faces of my 6, 8, and 10 year olds because my 10 year old has ADHD. Screaming it in their faces and taunting them through the walls of our duplex. It made my children and myself very upset and it went on for 2 days. I did report it to the police and I pressed charges and it did end up going to court and they were found guilty. It made my children and myself feel a little better that they were being punished for their actions. It's not a nice word to use in a derogatory way. It's mean and it's hurtful.

About Alicea Coopwood: I am the mother of 3 children, one of which has ADHD. We have friends and family that we love dearly that have disabilities. I would hate for someone to derogatorily call any of them the R word.
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January 09, 2017 | North America: Pennsylvania

My daughters school

By Rebecca Vanbrocklin

I went to my daughter's IEP meeting. I looked down at her paper, and there in bold letters was the R word.View Story I went to my daughter's IEP meeting. I looked down at her paper, and there in bold letters was the R word. I told them they had to change that because there is no way a child with Down syndrome or any other kid out there should have that on school or any other papers. I told them they need to use the term "special needs." My daughter was potty trained at 1 1/2 and started to walk at 1. I have five kids and she learned just like my other kids did, One week later, I had new IEP papers for my daughter

About Rebecca Vanbrocklin:
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December 23, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Athlete Health Corner: Improving Health

By Jordan Schubert

Jordan shares, "Any small exercises can help go a long way in improving everyone’s daily health and wellness routine."

I’m always thinking of ways to improve my health. Health is important to me.View Story I’m always thinking of ways to improve my health. Health is important to me because not only does it help with my sports performance, it also teaches me ways to challenge myself and set goals outside of Special Olympics. These goals could range from little things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or big things like going to the gym multiple times a week. Any small exercises can help go a long way in improving everyone’s daily health and wellness routine. Every day at work I still try to get my legs moving at least once every hour. If I’m too tired to go to the gym when I get home, another thing I try to do is play basketball in my driveway. While I’ve accomplished a lot during my 12 years in Special Olympics, I’m still only getting started. I was involved with Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® and the year-round focus on health called Healthy Communities in 2014. In Healthy Athletes, I’ve been through Special Smiles, Healthy Hearing and Fit Feet. Pennsylvania hosted an Athlete Congress where the highest voted athlete selected priority was improving athletes’ health, nutrition and fitness and as a result of the 2014 Athlete Congress, we have taken several big steps towards improving athletes’ health, nutrition and fitness inside and outside of Special Olympics. I encourage athlete leaders everywhere to make health a priority. We need to work together to help stop the issues our Healthy Athletes volunteers continue to see.

About Jordan Schubert: Jordan Schubert has been a Special Olympics athlete in Special Olympics Pennsylvania for 12 years. He currently competes in basketball and floor hockey and previously competed in softball and soccer. Jordan is the Athlete Leadership Coordinator for Special Olympics Pennsylvania. He is passionate about sharing the message on how important good health and nutrition are to improving health for people with intellectual disabilities.
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December 19, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

My story

By Angela Page

I was always considered slow in school. Because of that I was put in special education my whole school career.View Story I was always considered slow in school. Because of that I was put in special education my whole school career, unfortunately, until I dropped out. When I was 15, a teacher called me that word and said I would never be able to go to college or do anything with my life. That led me to a long depression, and I dropped out. It wasn't until I met my husband and he made me see I was worth something and I could follow my dreams did I come out. Now I am working on getting my GED and when I get it, I will go to college and follow my dream of being a deaf education teacher. That would take at least 4 years of my life and I will not let my family, friends or myself ever be called that again.

About Angela Page: I am 25 married and have a 2 years old son. I spent most of my life in special education and being treated unfairly. Over the years though I have gotten over that and am able to live my life.
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November 21, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Bucks County Athletes showing their Eye of the Tiger at Rocky Balboa Run

By Tim Damiani

Athletes from Bucks County along with Unified partners, coaches, family and friends participated in the Rocky Balboa Run.View Story On a chilly November morning a week after fall fest 11 athletes from Bucks County along with unified partners, coaches, family and friends participated in the Rocky Balboa Run to benefit Special Olympics Pennsylvania Philly. The event featured a 5k and a 10 mile race. All the athletes did the 5k and 7 of the athletes ran both the 5k and 10 miler collecting the Italian Stallion Challenge medal of running the length of 13.1 miles or a half marathon. Running the 5k was Kaelene Ponak, Ken Renson, Karl Dickersbach, Billy Rigefsky, Kevin Grow, Nick Caywood. Athletes, Unified Partners, and Coaches competing in the 13.1 mile challenge were Nic Canup, Dominique O'Hanlon, Chris Griffith, Erik Griffith, Harrison Bell, Tim Damiani, Brynn Zwickel, Tom Delaney, & Chris Thompson - who paced Chris Griffith to a 22 minute 5k and a 1:20:00 in the 10 miler placing 3rd in his age group. I am so proud of these athletes for all of their accomplishments. They definitely have the eye of the tiger and the heart of champions.

About Tim Damiani: Coach for Bucks County Special Olympics for Athletics and Long Distance Running and Walking
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November 16, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

New Athlete Leadership Resources Available

By Matt Aaron

A new section provides tools and materials to help Programs, volunteers and Athlete Leaders launch and expand Athlete Leadership initiatives.View Story The new “Athlete Leadership” section on Resources provides tools and materials to help Programs, volunteers and Athlete Leaders launch and expand Athlete Leadership initiatives in their Programs. Athlete Leadership empowers athletes. They develop leadership skills and use their voices and abilities to undertake meaningful leadership roles. In that way, our athletes make changes happen in the Special Olympics movement. That in turn helps create inclusive communities around the world. As athletes gain confidence through achievement, they feel empowered and ready to take on new challenges to make use of all their abilities – and with these new resources you are can now be better equipped to help them succeed. 

IMPORTANT: A webinar sharing an overview of the vision of Athlete Leadership in the SONA region will be held on December 1 from 2-3PM Eastern. All the new resources available will be reviewed during the webinar to help Programs, volunteers and Athlete Leaders launch and expand Athlete Leadership initiatives. Register now

About Matt Aaron: CEO, Special Olympics Pennsylvania, and Chair, North America Athlete Leadership Committee
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October 20, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

No need to know who I am...just know we're here to help!

By Me

My son has autism and since he was born, the word "retard" wasn't allowed in our house - even as a childish joke of a word.View Story My son has autism and since he was born, the word "retard" wasn't allowed in our house - even as a childish joke of a word...I am ashamed it took me having a child with a disability to learn how strong of a word this can be and what damage it can do to a person and his/her family and friends. My oldest son kept the word on check, if he ever heard anyone say it - he would say something - he actually did a better job than I did. So proud of these two brothers who came together at a time like this - I know, as a parent, how proud of a feeling that can be.

About Me: I am the proud mother of a child with Autism/PDD and another child with ADHD/ODD
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October 14, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

My Son, My Angel

By Barbara Miller

My son was born with epilepsy and had two seizures a day. He was in special schools, as he didn't t walk till he was 7.View Story My son was born with epilepsy and had two seizures a day. He was in special schools, as he didn't t walk till he was 7 and had a lot of trouble with hands and legs. He did Special Olympics and he did his best. He's 37 and he's still with me. Five years ago he had 2 hrs to live as he was a diabetic and his sugar was 2000, and in a coma. After 4 weeks he pulled it off and woke up. He's my angel. He cooks, cleans and he loves to fish. He's my son and I'm proud of him.

About Barbara Miller: I m a mom 60 yes old , raised four child , work and take care of my son .
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October 05, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Love

By V

We really need to stop hating each other and start loving and embracing our differences.View Story I work at a local spot and I work with families everyday. No I'm not a nurse or anything big, just a simple manager at a Carousel. I get to enjoy meeting kids and their familes every day. But most important I see all the happiness of every person. It doest matter if it's a baby or an elderly person nor does it matter if it's a person with special needs physical or mentally. One girl I see once a week with her dad, not only does she have ADD and ADHD she is also blind, but I tell you what she teaches me every time I see her how amazing people are regardless of who they are. We really need to stop hating each other and start loving and embracing our differences...

About V: I a wife, mother, sister, daughter and manager of a Carousel. I've been blessed by God in many ways and more than I deserve.
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July 06, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Making a Difference in India and Nepal

By David Hircock

Tamsin giving bicycle at Bal Ashram, India

Tamsin Hircock is so empowered by Special Olympics that she spreads the word and mission worldwide, to the children of India and Nepal.View Story Tamsin Hircock is so empowered by Special Olympics that she spreads the word and mission worldwide, to the children of India and Nepal. She has often shared her Special Olympics stories with Kailash Satyarthi (Nobel Peace Prize 2014) who Tamsin has known since 2009. Tamsin, 18, is a Special Olympics athlete. She last met Kailash in India in June 2016, when she was giving out bicycles to girls, to enable them to travel to school. Tamsin is very connected with India and has worked to supply over 500 bikes to girls in the Sates of Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan since 2009. Tamsin and her brother Thomas work closely with Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) to distribute the bikes. The bikes allow the girls to travel to school and importantly a girl on a bike is very unlikely to be kidnapped on the way to school, which can happen when walking to school. Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) is the organization that Kailash Satyarthi founded and has rescued over 80,000 children from child labor. Most important, it is not just the bike, but the incredible friendships that has happened and for the children of India to see that a girl from the USA cares. Importantly Tamsin is giving back, she receives so much from Special Olympics and this is one way she can give back to children of the world with challenges on access to education. Tamsin and Thomas have also funded school building for over 250 children in Nepal after the earthquake in 2015 and will visit the children of this school over her Holiday break in December 2016. Knowing how important sports are for the children Tamsin will also raise money for sports equipment for the school. On her visits one of the highlights of any conversations is her experiences with Special Olympics and the friends she has made with this very special program. Many thanks – Tamsin and David Hircock (father of Tamsin)

About David Hircock: David Hircock, father of Tamsin
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May 27, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

My Brother

By Greg M. Gilrain

Having a brother with an intellectual disability made me take action at the North Penn High School which we both attend.View Story Having a brother with an intellectual disability made me take action at the North Penn High School which we both attend. He graduates this year of 2016, I'm graduating next year of 2017 and continuing the campaign and pledge every year!

About Greg M. Gilrain: I'm 17 years old, a junior at North Penn High School. I'm the Campaign President for my school to Spread The Word To End The Word. I run this campaign and planning to do it every year.
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May 05, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Bucks County Special Olympics athletes compete in Broad Street Run

By By Timothy Damiani

Athletes showing off their medals they received after Broad Street Run 10 mile race

We had 4 athletes compete in the 2016 Broad Street Run with 40,000 other runners. Not only did they run it but they did it fast.View Story We had 4 athletes compete in the 2016 Broad Street Run with 40,000 other runners. Not only did they run it but they did it fast. Chris Griffith completed the 10 mile run with a time of 1:17:40, followed by his brother Erik Griffith with a time of 1:23:42. Next up was Harrison Bell with a time of 1:26:39 and Dominique O'Hanlon completed the course of 1:44:51. Dominique could have run it faster but she was making sure Coach Tim was okay. These athletes have been training hard for this and they always run their best at any distance they compete in. Their drive dedication and effort are truly a great inspiration to us all.

About By Timothy Damiani: Coach for Bucks County Special Olympics with Athletics and Long Distance Running & Walking.
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April 06, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

McDonalds Be Ashamed

By Robert and Judith Weisman for Elyssa

My husband took my daughter who has Down Syndrome to breakfast at the McDonalds in Flourtown, Pennsylvania this past Friday. Everything was going well until he overheard one of the managers call another employee retarded.View Story My husband took my daughter who has Down Syndrome to breakfast at the McDonalds in Flourtown, Pennsylvania this past Friday. Everything was going well until he overheard one of the managers call another employee retarded. When he contacted their corporate website and we spoke to someone they seemed to think that because it wasn't aimed at our daughter it was not a problem. I explained about your organization and that still didn't turn on a light bulb. So we have taken to Facebook to spread our story.

About Robert and Judith Weisman for Elyssa : Parents and advocates for our daughter!
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March 16, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Villanova Special Olympics: RESPECT

By Morgan Sturgis

Encompassing a welcoming environment for our friends with different abilities is pivotal to us as we pledge to eradicate derogatory use of the R-word.View Story Every year, Villanova’s Special Olympics Committee organizes the largest student-run Special Olympics event in the world! Our passionate committee works year-round to organize every facet of the Festival, including an Advocacy Week at the end of March which places tremendous importance on the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign. Encompassing a welcoming environment for our friends with different abilities is pivotal to us as we pledge to eradicate derogatory use of the R-word, both on and off campus. We are incredibly lucky to have the steadfast support and enthusiasm of many incredible athletes, and can’t wait to make this Special Olympics event the best yet for them!

About Morgan Sturgis: I’m honored to be on the Awareness Committee for Fall Fest 2016. Working alongside a committee of dedicated students towards a common goal, of celebrating our athletes, is such a humbling experience.
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March 16, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

My Brother Donni

By Miriam Bestwick

Donnie and Bryce at Aunt Nancy's 80th

Donnie is a charmer. His smile could melt an ice cube. His humor can break a roomful into laughter.View Story Donnie is a charmer. His smile could melt an ice cube. His humor can break a roomful into laughter. He was born into a family with Mom and Dad and six sibs. Now Mom and Dad have gone on to the next life, and it is Don who is the glue holding the other six together. Each summer, our family vacations for a week at an Atlantic coast beach. Don has been an integral part of that week for 35 years-- first with Mom and Dad, then with his sibs. Don has lived for years in an apartment with another id client. I'm not sure Don would know the meaning of the r-word, but many of his friends would. And Don and his friends stick together for the good of the group. It's obvious to close relatives and friends when Don is upset or unhappy. With very few words but many facial and hand expressions Don lets us know his emotions. What a joy it's been to hear Donnie's lilting voice call out, "I'm baaack" after being out of the house/apartment for a time. Don is now 58 yrs. old.

About Miriam Bestwick: My younger brother and I have helped to care for Donnie since our parents passed on, along with attendants from the group home where he lives. I was devastated when Don was born; now love him dearly
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March 09, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Thank you, Roma

By Sophia L

Roma, the girl who smiles even though people bully her. Thank you, Roma. Thank you for not letting me give up.View Story Someone who my dad works with has a 9 year old daughter named Roma. She has a disability, but I unfortunately don't know the name of it. Roma inspires me so much. Whenever I feel like giving up, I remember Roma, whose family always argues about whether or not she should go to a school for slower learners. Roma, the girl who smiles even though people bully her. Thank you, Roma. Thank you for not letting me give up. Thank you for inspiring me to take this pledge. Thank you for inspiring me to end the r-word. Thank you, Roma.

About Sophia L: I am a twelve year old who wants to prevent the r-word across the world.
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March 07, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

College

By Rachel

By the time I graduated high school, my entire family had stopped using the r-word. When I got to college, I continuously told all my new friends to stop using that word.View Story By the time I graduated high school, my entire family had stopped using the r-word. When I got to college, I continuously told all my new friends to stop using that word. Not only do they not use it, but they also send me very nice articles about children with disabilities and how they have overcome them. I think it's a great.

About Rachel: I am a college student with a part time job at my local autistic school.
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March 07, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Unique - the True Definition of Beauty

By M. McConnell

One night, a group of teenagers set the residence on fire with the R word written over every possible surface they could find. Unfortunately, all residents and their caretakers passed away in the fire due to the inability to escape.View Story Growing up, my uncle Larry had a cognitive disability called Fragile X syndrome. When my grandfather passed away and his care was too much for my grandmother to handle on her own, my uncle went to live in an assisted care facility with other individuals who had disabilities. This facility at the time had doors that locked from the outside and windows that opened only a few inches. The residents were locked into their rooms each night for bed. One night, a group of teenagers set the residence on fire with the R word written over every possible surface they could find. Unfortunately, all residents and their caretakers passed away in the fire due to the inability to escape. The R word, written cruelly over my uncle's last dwelling place, is an image that I will always have with me. Though I have no control over the image being erased from my mind, I do have control over the R word being erased from my vocabulary. Please urge others to use people first language and get rid of the R word.

About M. McConnell: I am a high school special education teacher for students with severe and profound disabilities but, even more important, unique and exceptional abilities.
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March 07, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

A Personal Goal

By Maureen

Growing up, I volunteered at an institute for children and adults with disabilities. The R-word was never a part of our vocabulary there.View Story Growing up, I volunteered at an institute for children and adults with disabilities. The R-word was never a part of our vocabulary there; instead, we spoke of the challenges and successes each individual experienced. It was only when I became a public school teacher that I became aware of just how often this word was used. I was referred to as "The R***** Teacher" or "The SPED Teacher." I was shocked, and in that moment made it my personal crusade to eliminate the use of the R-word. I'm so pleased that there is a movement today that shares the same goal. Together, change people’s perception and language about children and adults who are differently abled!

About Maureen: I am the Executive Vice President of an Approved Private School for children with severe mental and physical disabilities (www.barberinstitute.org)
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March 04, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Why I pledged...

By Maggie Getler

Over the summer as I was working as a camp counselor, I had one camper that had Down syndrome. I didn't know it then but this girl would go on to change my outlook on life drastically.View Story Over the summer as I was working as a camp counselor, I had one camper that had Down syndrome. I didn't know it then but this girl would go on to change my outlook on life drastically. She was always smiling and laughing. She loved to write the schedule out. She just loved camp in general. When she wasn't stealing my binder or playing tricks on me, She was always by my side and this allowed me to build a close relationship with her in those Two weeks. She taught me to enjoy the little things. She taught me to live life to the fullest no matter what hand you are drawn. Of course she didn't know, she was teaching me those things, she was just being herself. I even have a picture of us posing on my desk at college to remind me those things. This camper will always have a special place in my heart and so does this day. Today is spread the word to end the word day, in which people take the pledge to never use the r word.

About Maggie Getler:
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March 04, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

The R-word

By Morgan Murphy

The r word is bad. my friends and my sister say it all the time. im going to stop them and me from saying it no matter what.View Story The r word is bad. my friends and my sister say it all the time. im going to stop them and me from saying it no matter what. if i think of saying it i am going to replace with another word. my friend has a brother that has down syndrome and he is awesome. i love him so much he is so adorable.

About Morgan Murphy: i am 12 and in 6th grade it is hard for me to see people with down syndrome it makes me cry even tho they are like us in every way
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February 26, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Do Not Limit Those I Love

By McKenzie Lewis

Throughout my life so far I've had the honor to meet many people with an intellectual disability. Whenever I am with those people I can feel myself feeling happier than ever.View Story Throughout my life so far I've had the honor to meet many people with an intellectual disability. Whenever I am with those people I can feel myself feeling happier than ever. Those who I have met that have an ID have had a huge impact on me and lead me to see things in a different perspective. While spending time with my friends with ID's, I've noticed how others limit them. Others think just because they have an ID they have a limit in their everyday lives. They think they cannot achieve as much, or do as much. This is where they are so wrong. I can see the intelligence and the strengths through my friends with an ID. I know they have the power to achieve any goal they desire. They can do anything they set their minds to. Everyday that I am spending time with my amazing friends, they never fail to teach me new things. New things that are worth knowing. My conclusion is, don't limit my friends. They can achieve and will achieve just as much as ANY other human could. They are limitless.

About McKenzie Lewis: My name is McKenzie and I am a junior in high school! I completely stand behind this organization for so many reasons. The R word should never be used. Spread the word to end the word :)
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February 26, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Global Messenger for Beaver County

By Elizabeth

Hello everyone my name is Elizabeth. I am a global messenger, and I been involved in Special Olympics about 14 yrs now.View Story Hello everyone my name is Elizabeth. I am a global messenger, and I been involved in Special Olympics about 14 yrs now. I participate in swimming, soccer, bowling, track n field and I have done ice skating when we had it. I like Special Olympics. I get to make new friends and see my old friends, and I have so much fun. I spoke last year at Slippery Rock and I did a good job. I would like to speak at Penn State this year in June and share my story as a global messager and hope to speak one day at Villanova. Special Olympics has given me the opportunity to be stronger as a global messenger. I have spoken to different kinds of people.

About Elizabeth : I like playing different kinds of sports for Special Olympics
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January 25, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

They Bring a New Perspective

By Tyler

My boyfriend's sister has an intellectual disability. She's a sweet person and we've grown fond of each other.View Story My boyfriend's sister has an intellectual disability. She's a sweet person and we've grown fond of each other. We share interests and I enjoy talking to her. I also work with adults who have intellectual disabilities. They are wonderful, energetic, kind people who can be a lot of fun to be around. Sometimes you just have to slow down and explain what you're saying. It's not hard.

About Tyler:
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September 15, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

My beautiful blessing

By Pamela

Words are choices, think before you speak and think about how YOUR words may hurt someone or someone's family member.View Story I have a beautiful daughter named Kennedy, she will be 1 at the end of September. Nothing in this world hurts more than the "R" word. It's a nasty, hurtful, mean word. I wish people would know exactly how hurtful those words are. There is nothing that is "R" about my daughter just like there is nothing down about her except her diagnosis. A diagnosis is just a diagnosis and that word needs to be deleted from the American language. Words are choices, think before you speak and think about how YOUR words may hurt someone or someone's family member.

About Pamela:
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August 31, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Wanted to share the video we made

By The S2L group

Hello. We are a group of young adults with disabilities from Allentown Pennsylvania. Our group is the S2L group. We are associated with the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living.View Story Hello. We are a group of young adults with disabilities from Allentown Pennsylvania. Our group is the S2L group. We are associated with the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living. We get together a few times a month to work on independent living, social, employment and advocacy goals. We have done numerous videos but one of the videos that we have done was a PSA about banning the R wrd. We wanted to share it with you.

About The S2L group: Our group has worked on a video to ban the R word as a form of advocacy. Our group is working on other ways to be involved in our community and finding ways to reduce stigma for PWD's.
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August 24, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Why I like Special Olympics

By John Judd

I like Special Olympics because it has helped me open up more and also has helped me find friends that I consider my family, just as like they are my real family.View Story I like Special Olympics because it has helped me open up more and also has helped me find friends that I consider my family, just as like they are my real family.

About John Judd : I'm an athlete and a friend and a brother
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June 30, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Their special moments

By Susan Martin

I put them on a bus with others some as special as them others leaders to help. My husband and I would meet them there but they would be staying a few days in campus dorms.View Story I put them on a bus with others some as special as them others leaders to help. My husband and I would meet them there but they would be staying a few days in campus dorms. They had fun rooming with others competing and cheering others on. Going to a dance and enjoying time in the Olympic village in the end they both came home with medals but the smiles and memories of what they accomplished and the friends they made was what it was all about. For my husband and I a trip worth taking to see them having this special times and making memories. Special Olympics, Special People, Special Times. Truly Blessed

About Susan Martin: I am the mother of 6 adopted children 2 with special needs of which I knew before I adopted them. This was a blessed event that I will let them do again. My Moro enjoy your children and your grandchildren life goes fast making memories is how this family rolls!!!!!
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June 29, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

My life in special olympics

By Jennifer Petersen

I was a teenager when I first started Special Olympics and the state that I started in was Virginia. I always loved doing Special Olympics because I love doing sports with my friends and the coaches are like my family.View Story I was a teenager when I first started Special Olympics and the state that I started in was Virginia. I always loved doing Special Olympics because I love doing sports with my friends and the coaches are like my family. I loved it very much but I had to stop cause I moved, then started back up again for a year in New York. I stopped and moved to Pennsylvania, then started up again with the Special Olympics program at school then started up with Monroe County. I am still with the program since we started it in 1998.

About Jennifer Petersen: I always loved doing Special Olympics ever since I was a teenager cause I love doing sports with my friends and the coaches are like my family
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June 25, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Rolling Souls Inc. ride from FL to CT for Dream Ride Ralley

By Joseph M. Snyder

This years motorcycle rally route and information.

We aim to bring many smiles and celebrate all the efforts of triumph among Special Olympic athletes, families and friends. We are riding motorcycle from FL to CT in this years Dream Ride Rally. Join us!View Story We aim to bring many smiles and celebrate all the efforts of triumph among Special Olympic athletes, families and friends. We are riding motorcycle from FL to CT in this years Dream Ride Rally. Join us!

About Joseph M. Snyder: I am the President and Founder of Rolling Souls Inc. We aim to network need with resources and be a blessing where ever we may be called.
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June 25, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

I Used the R-Word; Now I'm an Active Advocate Against It

By Danny

I used to used the r-word in casual context; never really understanding the weight of my words. From my exposure with the athletes and their families I was able to realize for the first time just how much the r-word hurts people with intellectual disabilities.View Story I used to used the r-word in casual context; never really understanding the weight of my words. I am now a member of Villanova's Special Olympics Committee. From my exposure with the athletes and their families I was able to realize for the first time just how much the r-word hurts people with intellectual disabilities. Not only that, but I was also able to see how much the r-word hurts the family and friends of people with intellectual disabilities. As part of my role on the Villanova Special Olympics Committee, along with Committee members and friends Rodrigo, Maria, and Nick we were able to make a video speaking out against the r-word. When the r-word is used you not only hurt the athletes but you also hurt my colleagues on committee and myself. Spread the Word to End the Word so that we can become a more respectful and accepting society.

About Danny: Special Olympics Swim Coach (2011-2014); Villanova Special Olympics Committee Awareness Assistant (2015)
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June 17, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Is It Time?

By Bobby's Mom (aka Kerri Wise)

Robert Wise May 2015

Those three questioning words are heard quite a bit in our home during the course of a season. Is it time to get ready for practice? Is it time to leave?View Story Those three questioning words are heard quite a bit in our home during the course of a season. Is it time to get ready for practice? Is it time to leave? If it were up to our athlete, he would be the first person at every practice and the last to leave. He lives to participate. Yes, he has the natural ability and desire to play well, but it much more than that. It is about being with his friends, his peers, his coaches that he looks up to the unified players as many he knows well because they have been with Special Olympics as long as he has. So "is it time?" Absolutely! He already has his soccer gear ready for practice to begin in August. Soon our county will announce the practice dates and we will begin counting down the days.

About Bobby's Mom (aka Kerri Wise): I am the mother of a wonderful, loving, caring and hard working son who has been involved in Special Olympics for 9 years. I can honestly say that he has enjoyed almost every minute of every practice, game, tournament and social activity he has participated in.
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June 16, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Minor League Baseball Manager Trades Himself to Raise Funds for the Special Olympics

By John Wagner

After battling cancer for the past year, I realize my time on this earth is limited. So, I wanted to try something different to make a difference in the world while I can.View Story My name is John Wagner and I'm the manager of the Pittsburg Diamonds professional baseball team in Pittsburg, California. I traded myself on May 31st 2015 to the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League to join Manager Bob Bozzuto's coaching staff. I am trading myself for the funds raised on this page to the Special Olympics. After battling cancer for the past year, I realize my time on this earth is limited. So, I wanted to try something different to make a difference in the world while I can. I posted the rest of my story at the link below.

About John Wagner: Here is my bio
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June 11, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Special Olympics led me to the "aha moment"

By Cheryl Kehoe Rodgers

Robin Roberts ran with the Flame of Hope through New York City on June 4.

I watched Robin Roberts' segment on Good Morning America, her admiration for the athletes, and the volunteers and organizers and the global ambassadors, was evident. Tears came to my eyes, because, in many ways, she was talking about my son.View Story I recently wrote a column about my son and Special Olympics. I pasted an excerpt, and provided the link to the entire column because it exceeds the character count. I watched Robin Roberts' segment on Good Morning America, her admiration for the athletes, and the volunteers and organizers and the global ambassadors, was evident. Tears came to my eyes, because, in many ways, she was talking about my son, and my son’s coaches and all the good people who devote their time to these inspirational athletes. And that’s when my aha moment hit – if it weren’t for Matthew, would I even care about Special Olympics? Would I even pay attention to this report? Would I even acknowledge that these terrific people exist?

About Cheryl Kehoe Rodgers: I am a news content editor at a daily newspaper outside of Philadelphia -- and the mom of Matthew, a 13-year-old budding teenager. He's participates in bowling and soccer, and I volunteer as a basketball official.
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June 11, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

A Class Effort

By Julie Lewis

Our high school had a few of their Best Buddies come down to present to our elementary school. My class instantly asked if we could make a movie to spread the word to end the word. How can I say no to 4th graders asking to help change the world?? We designed shirts & got to work!View Story Our high school had a few of their Best Buddies come down to present to our elementary school. My class instantly asked if we could make a movie to spread the word to end the word. How can I say no to 4th graders asking to help change the world?? We designed shirts & got to work!

About Julie Lewis: 4th grade teacher, trying to change the world one kid at a time!
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June 08, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Brian on the skills soccer team

By Connie Berni

One week we were doing this, at the square he let my hand go, balanced himself and put his foot on the ball. He looked up at me with the biggest grin!View Story Brian ( non-verbal) was just eight. In the first few weeks of soccer skills practice I would hold his hand and help him kick the soccer ball into the square. I would then help him put his foot on it. One week we were doing this, at the square he let my hand go, balanced himself and put his foot on the ball. He looked up at me with the biggest grin! He is now a lot taller than me, and I am sure he does not remember that day. I will remember that day and smile forever ! It is the small accomplishments that pave the way for the bigger ones.

About Connie Berni: At the time I was a skills soccer coach, I have also coached gymnastics, Brian was also a gymnast. I have been the Head of Delegation a couple of times for PA Special Olympics, and have plunged into the Delaware River for the Polar Plunge. Now I volunteer were and when I can.
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June 08, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

My Niece has Cerebral Palsy

By Alda Gamble

I don't like the r word or any word used to hurt children ,my niece has cerebral palsy. she's in her 30s and is like a child. luckily she lives at home and wouldn't understand ,but I wouldn't want anyone to be called that.View Story I don't like the r word or any word used to hurt children ,my niece has cerebral palsy. she's in her 30s and is like a child. luckily she lives at home and wouldn't understand ,but I wouldn't want anyone to be called that.

About Alda Gamble : I am disabled mentally and physically ,hard for drs and people to understand what its like to be me have phobias I live in fear things no one would be afraid of ,pills haven't helped or counseling
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May 25, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Special Olympic Stadium

By Jason Winn

I'm head-injured, but have a very scientific mind. I admire Steven Hawking. I want to build the first Special Olympics STADIUM in the world.View Story I'm head-injured, but have a very scientific mind. I admire Steven Hawking. I want to build the first Special Olympics STADIUM in the world. My girlfriend, my bowling buddies, are all disabled. I think the best of the best should be able to show to the world that we,"the disabled," are as capable as anyone else to do sports, activities and have fun. Why can't we be as awesome as the rest of the world? Hey, I'm just one person.... but together we... the disabled... can be as athletic, happy, passionate, caring and yes ... smart as everyone else. Dr. Shriver, let's do this for everyone and anyone who feels out of place or different. I know I've gone through all that stuff before. Some people who helped me were my bowling disabled group. It sucks that we are still categorized as different, or more harsh, the R-word. We know we are better than them, but it still hurts!!! I think we should have more TV shows, like that show in the 90's, "Good Life." We need to be recognized as people.

About Jason Winn: I'm a head injured man. i have a scientific mind and incredible ideas. aparently, nobody wants to listen except my roomate. we are both head injured. im 42, and want to share my incredible ideas with the rest of the world. it not like people really give a care what i think, except the world of disability. im taking advice from tony robbins and go forward and not backward. i want my thoughts and dreams to come true, so we" the disabled" can be noticed and appreciated by the rest of the world. i, myself have ao many bussiness ideas and plans. unfortunitly i need help from people who care about the disabled. i blew my counsilors mind when he saw my ideas. he works for the center for independent living in s. centrl p.a...... thank you so much for reading my little story. i hope we can work together to make a better disabled world!!!!!!.... jas
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April 06, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

No comparison!

By Lynn VanBlunk-Ruffenach

When I'm out and about or watching a movie with friends or family and hear someone using the R word to describe someone who is drunk, obnoxious or otherwise impaired it's a kick in the stomach to think they are comparing someone's socially unacceptable behaviour to my beautiful child!View Story When I'm out and about or watching a movie with friends or family and hear someone using the R word to describe someone who is drunk, obnoxious or otherwise impaired it's a kick in the stomach to think they are comparing someone's socially unacceptable behaviour to my beautiful child! It's very sad. I know they don't mean it that way but it is a comparison and taken that way all the same! It took my daughter being born for me to see how wrong, how hurtful, how inappropriate and how overlooked the comparison really is! Please Stop! Because it's been so misused it even hurts when it's used in the medical field! It's not fair because those who are being put down can not defend themselves. And we as advocates fight so hard to help them be productive members of their community. A community that uses such derogatory terms against them without a second thought! Please think!

About Lynn VanBlunk-Ruffenach : I'm June's Mom & Advocate. June is a delightful child who has Down's syndrome & type 1 diabetes they don't have her so she is not a Down's syndrome child's or a diabetic she's a child FIRST!
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March 29, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

For My Brother Eric

By Sheri (Baruch) Carlino

I have always been sensitive to the INSENSITIVE use of the word "RETARD" . I am the proud sister of a severely retarded human being who also deals with cerebral palsy.View Story I have always been sensitive to the INSENSITIVE use of the word "RETARD" . I am the proud sister of a severely retarded human being who also deals with cerebral palsy. My brother is and always was very sweet, loving and very much loved. Unfortunately those who were not aware or maybe frightened of the differences or just plain ignorant, would not be sensitive to children or adults like him. I would always be very protective of my younger brother and my heart would hurt deeply when I heard classmates around me throwing the word "retard" around without any regard to what such a hurtful spin on its true meaning really meant to those who had a form of retardation, and to those who loved and lived with these precious individuals. I always tried to turn the negative words to a positive message. I became an advocate for my brother when I was old enough to understand...and so, today at 51, I am proud and grateful to help spread compassion and end the word...

About Sheri (Baruch) Carlino: My name is Sheri Carlino (nee: Baruch). I come from an amazing, loving and devoted family. And, I am so happy and touched to support this very important message in honor of my brother Eric Baruch.
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March 29, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

My Brother

By Brenda

I have a little brother who was born with a heart defect. Very little did we know that he was born special. My little brother can't hear.View Story I have a little brother who was born with a heart defect. Very little did we know that he was born special. My little brother can't hear. You can talk, and he doesn't know right from wrong. I think I would be pretty upset if somebody used the R word on my little baby brother. You see, they can't defend themselves and we have to be there, and protect them from people who verbally abuse them.

About Brenda : I am 45 years old and have 12 brothers and sisters me being the oldest.I have a 10 year old little girl and a whole bunch of nephews and nieces and a wonderful mom.I'm a firm believer of Jesus Christ.
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March 17, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Kenny

By Linda Campbell Simmons

My big brother Kenny, was unique. When I was old enough to go to school was the first time I heard someone use this word towards him.View Story My big brother Kenny, was unique. When I was old enough to go to school was the first time I heard someone use this word towards him. At times, it was used towards me as well as I was his sister. In 9th grade I had a teacher who used this word daily. I went to my principal. It stopped. Thank you all who pledge.

About Linda Campbell Simmons : I come from a family of 9. I have 4 kids , 6 grand kids. I have my own company. I speak with people from all around the world. So many times in my life, I have introduced myself as "Kenny's sister"
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March 09, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Why?

By Camera

I was inspired by the person who created this website. So I was wondering why people use the r-word in the 1st place. I don't personally know anyone with a mental disorder, but I know there are people out there who think it's fine to call someone the r-word and also think it's time to stop it.View Story I was inspired by the person who created this website. So I was wondering why people use the r-word in the 1st place. I don't personally know anyone with a mental disorder, but I know there are people out there who think it's fine to call someone the r-word and also think it's time to stop it.

About Camera: I am a girl. I know a girl who actually does special olympic bowling and she loves it. I live with my mom and her fiance. I have 6 siblings and soon to be 7.
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Lindsey the story of my life

By Lindsey Madden

My name is Lindsey I was born with cerebral palsy and mental retardation. I also have a birth mark on my face. Growing up with special needs was very hard. When I was still in school I was picked on every day. It hurt so bad I would cry every day.View Story My name is Lindsey I was born with cerebral palsy and mental retardation. I also have a birth mark on my face. Growing up with special needs was very hard. When I was still in school I was picked on every day. It got so bad that I was getting called the R word and it hurt so bad I would cry every day. I want everyone to see we are just like every one else. I hate being called the R word but I don't let people get me down. We can doing anything no matter what people say about us.

About Lindsey Madden : My name is Lindsey I have special needs but. I don't let that stop me from doing the thing I want too. I started doing special olmypic witch I love so much I so proud to be part of a great thing
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