LOUISVILLE, KY (March 14, 2014) — The ResCare Resource Center hosted a Best Buddies informational session and pledge event to end the use of the hurtful “R-word” as part of the movement to Spread the Word to End the Word.
The “R-word” has found a place in common language despite the fact that its use, casual or otherwise, is hurtful to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. For too long, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have had to overcome the challenges of society’s stereotypes. ResCare showed their support and brought more attention to this issue with the pledge event.
Proposal Manager Devon Hill coordinated the event and was happy that so many employees turned out for the occasion which seeks to have a lasting effect.
“I was thrilled to see so many ResCare employees at the event. It tells me this is more than just a job to them, that they care on a personal level for the people we support,” Ms. Hill said. “To hear people talking after the presentation saying they teared up and telling their own personal connection to the cause was so heartwarming. The event exceeded my expectations, and if we encouraged one person to stop using the ‘R-word’, then it was all worth it.”
Best Buddies Kentucky State Director Chris Head explained the history and purpose of Best Buddies and the importance of friendship.
“Our concept is an easy one,” Mr. Head said. “We’re not asking you to go to mentor someone or volunteer your time at a soup kitchen. We are simply asking you to make friends with someone new, make friends with one of our buddies.”
Best Buddies Ambassador Daniel Noltemeyer also shared his story and how he had personally been victimized by the “R-word”.
“Have you ever felt left out? Have you ever been bullied?” Mr. Noltemeyer asked. “In the cafeteria other students didn’t want to sit with me because I was a retard. I have been exposed to the ‘R-word’ since high school and when I hear that word to describe me it hurts because it’s not right. People with IDD deserve to be respected and valued. This is a quality movement that promotes one-to-one friendships and furthermore promotes inclusion, employment and leadership skills for those with IDD.”
Over 100 ResCare employees participated in signing a banner at the event to “support the elimination of the derogatory use of the ‘R-word’ from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.” Local news stations WAVE 3 and WDRB covered the event helping increase state-wide awareness of the campaign.
“To have so many people there including the media was fantastic,” Ms. Hill said. “Everyone has a gift, and we need to honor and encourage those gifts. When we label someone as less than, we limit their ability to express that gift and our ability to experience it. The Spread the Word to End the Word campaign is more than just about eliminating a word. It’s a revolution in our attitudes.”
For more information on the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, visit the R-Word website and take the pledge.
You can also watch the news coverage on Wave 3 and WDRB.
Author : Moriah Dietrich