Encourage Building Communities of Respect On March 6th

Special Olympics and Best Buddies Celebrate 5th Annual ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ Annual Awareness Day

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C., 28 February 2013 – On Wednesday, March 6th, people around the world will unite their communities to Spread the Word to End the Word®, as supporters participate in the fifth annual ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ awareness day, aimed at ending the hurtful use of the R-word (“retard(ed)”) negatively impacting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Language affects attitudes. Attitudes impact actions. Special Olympics and Best Buddies encourage people all over the world to pledge now to use respectful language at www.R-word.org and build communities of respect and inclusion for all people.
The conversation about R-word most recently garnered national attention in October 2012 when Special Olympics Virginia athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens shared a moving open letter reacting to the use of the R-word, which generated an array of media coverage and conversation about the use of R-word in society.  

‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ is an on-going, year-round effort, created by students with and without IDD in 2009.  The campaign continues to make great strides in the fight to eliminate use of the R-word because passionate supporters have created communities of respect.  Thousands of schools and tens of thousands of students will participate in ‘Spread the World to End the Word Day’ on March 6 to help eliminate hurtful language in schools to create more tolerant and accepting school climates. Best Buddies’ 1500 chapters will also be commemorating the campaign throughout the month of March – which is also Best Buddies Month - with pledge banners, school assemblies and community events. Special Olympics and Best Buddies ask everyone to join in the effort by utilizing new and updated activation materials and assets for 2013 that include:
•    A refreshed www.R-word.org website, with a focus on the grassroots stories told by supporters of how the R-word affects them and how others can make a difference, and also a brand new mobile optimized site for use on smartphones and tablets.
•    A dynamic and energetic new video on the power of youth and Special Olympics Project Unify in changing attitudes.
•    Activation ideas and talking points for supporters to share across social networks
•    Graphics for Facebook cover photos, blog or website buttons, printable flyers

Special Olympics and Best Buddies also remind people to join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting @EndtheWord or using #Rword in Tweets; Tweet to us @EndtheWord and post on our Facebook wall.

Also on March 6th, Special Olympics and Best Buddies leaders, families, participants (or volunteers), staff and athletes from more than 40 U.S. States will convene on Capitol Hill to speak with legislative leaders about the power and impact of their federally supported programming. Supporters can create lasting change locally by contacting state legislators and asking them to change official state language from ‘mental retardation’ to “people with intellectual disabilities,” to ensure that our laws and attitudes are shaped in a way that a person before a condition is put before a condition.

For more information on the campaign and how to get involved, please visit www.facebook.com/EndtheWord and twitter.com/endtheword.  For a list of R-word events around the world, please visit r-word.org/r-word-events.aspx.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 4 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now take place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard to World Games. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

About Best Buddies

Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies’ eight formal programs — Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies® , Jobs, Ambassadors, and Promoters — engage participants in each of the 50 states and in 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of nearly 700,000 people with and without disabilities around the world. As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit www.bestbuddies.org, facebook.com/bestbuddies or twitter.com/bestbuddies.

Media Contacts

Mandy Murphy         
Special Olympics       
+1 (202) 824-0227

Jennifer Hanlon
Best Buddies International
+1 (305) 374-2233 x 245