Brewer students take a stand against the R-word

7:27 PM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
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BREWER, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- In high school hallways words are thrown around without worry if they may be offensive or hurtful to some. But at Brewer High School students are pledging to stop the use of one word in particular that is upsetting people with mental disabilities.

Brewer High School junior Nicole Turner knows how hurtful this word can be, "When I was going to class I think it was a few weeks ago or maybe last month I heard a girl saying do I look retarded in this? In my head I'm just like 'Wow.'"

Nicole struggles with an intellectual disability herself and she wants the R-word to stop being said in all hallways.

Nicole said, "I just find it very rude and I don't like hearing it. Sometimes they will just make a joke out of it and it's really not."

Brewer High School is one of 25 Maine schools participating in the national "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign. It is sponsored by the Special Olympics. The goal is to have every student and faculty member to make the pledge.

The pledge states, "I pledge and 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."

Student organizer Gabrielle Cyr said, "It's representing not to use the word and that it's not OK to use it. Pledging it says you won't use it anymore if you do."

Nearly 800 signatures were gathered in just over an hour. One by one students signed the pledge, wearing the stickers proud to show unity. But in a high school change does not come easy. Brewer High School junior Megan Pike said, "We've had kids just use

 the word just to be offensive. They're high school kids so it's hard for them to adjust. But I think one of the main things we are focusing on on this program is to show them that maybe it's not just the R-word but to respect other people in general."

The "Spread the Word to End the Word" pledge sheet is available online. If you would like to join the cause visit the website.

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