Updated: 03/05/2014 5:51 PM
Created: 03/05/2014 5:50 PM WHEC.com
By: Janet Lomax
It is a word that has crept into casual conversation. Some people use it to make jokes, but organizers of an event Wednesday say there's nothing funny about it.
Words have power. They can be uplifting or they can be hurtful. On Wednesday, there was a challenge to everyone in the Rochester area to end the use of the R-word. A lot of people stepped up to the challenge.
The Golisano Foundation is partnering with Special Olympics to run this campaign.
Ann Costello, Golisano Foundation Director, said, “This is a campaign to end the use of the R-word, the word retarded. Many don't know that the word is hurtful to millions of Americans and people around the world with intellectual disabilities.”
People are getting the message and spreading it. Findley, the mascot for the Rochester Razorsharks, is lending support. The basketball team is promoting the concept of inclusion at its game this Saturday. At the medical center, people lined up to sign up.
The Golisano Foundation's awareness campaign is now in its fourth year. Has it made a difference?
Costello said, “I have to believe that by raising awareness and educating people about the harmful effects, that people are stopping to think before they use the R-word.”
Another sign of growth is that, four years ago, there were only a couple of events to spread the word to end the R-word. Now there are half a dozen or so, including one at Mercy High School. On Wednesday afternoon, all 800 students, faculty and staff came together to take the pledge.
This is a national day of awareness. If you'd like more information on how to spread the word to end the word or take the pledge, click here.