Wilmot UHS students and staff “Spread the Word to End the Wordâ„¢”

r-word-wuhs-2013-1About 100 students and staff at Wilmot Union High School participated in today’s drive to Spread the Word to End the Wordâ„¢ today.

What word? The R-word. Retard(ed).

The students and staff raised awareness for their cause by wearing t-shirts that said “Spread the Word to End the Word.” They were part of a nationwide effort sponsored by Special Olympics and Best Buddies coordinated to take place today, said Tracy Carlisle, a Wilmot teacher who helped coordinate the event.

Participating students also signed a banner that will be displayed in Stevens Point during a Special Olympics Track and Field meet later this year, said Marcia Nolan, a special education staffer at Wilmot.

Some of the student participants I spoke to, like Heaven Podgorski, Hope Miller and Briana Vescova, said they were motivated to participate because of relatives and people they knew who have developmental disabilities.

Others did not necessarily have family members with intellectual disabilities, but they were still bothered by the loose use of the word.

“I hate when I hear people use that word in the wrong way,” said Kiana Vasquez. “I’ve already yelled at a lot people” who use the R-Word.

“I just always hate when people use that word,” explained Lindsey Orre. “I just think it’s inconsiderate.”




  1. Northwestern Mike says:

    Enough with this politically correct language.

    My younger brother had Down’s Syndrome. He was totally nonverbal. He neither spoke or understood anyone and required constant attention. It took him 6 years to become potty trained. He clearly had retarded development and there was nothing what so ever wrong with describing him as retarded. He was. He was also very happy and innocent.

    Let’s end this political charade of refusing to call the kettle black when it is.

  2. Mike I think you are missing the point. Retard or retarded is ugly slang for the medical term “mental retardation” made even more ugly by the casual and hurtful way it is often employed in society directed at both the disabled and the not disabled. People use it as casual slang for a whole range of sentiments such as dumb, unhip or uncool, drunk, forgetful and a whole bunch of other things that have nothing to do with mental disability. Of course it is also used to mock or put down individuals that have intellectual disabilities — a situation they have absolutely no control over — say like their race or gender. The R-word — yes I am not going to repeat it any more than necessary — has been so sullied by these connections that it is of little use as anything but an insult — and a vicious one at that. It does matter what people say. Its use harms the acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities in society. It’s a slur. In short, it’s hate speech.

  3. Northwestern Mike says:

    Darren, I have used the term retarded (and I will use the term because it is NOT slang for me) my whole life to describe my brother’s conditions. I am not embarrassed by its use and I am well aware of what it is shorthand for. He did not care. Our whole family and those around him accepted him as he was.

    If someone uses it the way you describe it, them shame on the people that use it. It is no reason to ban it. The way I use it is not a slur or hate speech.

    Do we next try to ban the term fat, porky, obese, husky for overweight people?
    Do we eliminate the term asinine for stupid and silly?

    You walk a fine line when people start censoring words because people misuse them.

    I had a retarded brother and I scream it from the roof tops. I will not stop using it because someone deems it politically incorrect.

  4. Twin Lakes Tim says:

    You are so right, the word is just hateful.

  5. Northwestern Mike says:

    My mother was a nurse. She used medical terms when we grew up. BM was for bowel movement and retarded was short for mental retardation. They is absolutely nothing wrong with this short hand for medical terms. Let’s get a grip on reality here, folks.

  6. Northwestern Mike says:

    Just be aware if I have a conversation on this topic with you I will use the term freely and will not use it the way you describe. It will be suitable for any conversation I have.

  7. Well Mike the reality is that words evolve and this one has evolved for the worse. The time has come that this term just isn’t suitable for most communication. The point of the effort described in this post is exactly to shame those folks you say should be shamed Mike, not people like you or your family who use it to describe a particular situation close to them personally and true to the real meaning of the term mental retardation. I actually think you and I are closer on this then we thought at first, but probably too stubborn (both of us) to concede the other’s point completely.

  8. Northwestern Mike says:

    We may have forgotten one of the basic rhymes from childhood: sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me!! Food for thought.
    In my opinion our current society has become overly sensitive about the use of every day words.

    There is nothing wrong with the adjective ‘retarded’. For example the ignition timing was retarded. The growth of my garden is retarded. It is the negative use of it that is a concern for some. I say, then stop using it in a negative way, but you don’t need to ‘ban it’.

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