Students pledge to say no to the R-word | ParkRecord.com

Students pledge to say no to the R-word

Megan Yeiter , The Park Record

Rallying around a cause they feel passionate about, students in Treasure Mountain Junior High School’s Leadership and Special Education class along with Latinos in Action helped organize an assembly last week that encouraged their peers to not say "no" the "R-word." The national campaign to eliminate the word "retarded" from schools is one TMJHS fully supports.

According to Treasure Mountain Junior High School Student Body President Nicole Chang said one of the reasons she supports the initiative is because it hits close to home in her family.

"The reason I was so passionate about it is because I think about how I would feel if someone called my sister that," Chang said. "It’s the first step we have to take to stop bullying."

"Spread the Word to End the Word" advocates Claire Breiholz and Emma Burke set aside time at lunch last week to talk with students about the cause and to ask students to pledge to stop using the word. Burke said she helped hundreds of students’ pledge.

"You sign up at a table where there paper cutouts of hands and you write your name on it and tape it to the wall where other students have pledged too," she said. "I told a lot of my friends that it’s a great thing to do and it really effects the students who are mentally challenged."

TMJHS student Katherine Murphy has been volunteering as a peer tutor for several years. Murphy said she enjoys working with all the students and forming friendships with them.

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"You actually really become a peer and you find ways to relate to them and be their friend and you realize what they go through every day and how they are affected," she said. "It’s not fair to use the ‘R-word’ because you don’t realize how much you affect them."

To help raise awareness, ninth-grade vice president Maddie Wood produced and edited a short film that talks about the meaning and negative use of the word. Wood collected footage by interviewing teachers and other students.

"Hopefully it will enlighten them and they will see how destructive that word is," she said, adding that the only time the "R-word" is acceptable to say is in medical terms.

"As a community we are starting to use it as an adjective and that simply isn’t right," Wood said. "We’re trying to educate them on what the word really means and the correct way it’s used."

To watch Wood’s short video on the "R-Word" visit The Park Record website to find the film on YouTube.