buildOn Students Work to Abolish the “R” Word

Each month, buildOn’s high school programs in Philly put their energy into addressing an issue through service. November’s service challenge was to support the “Spread the Word to End the R-Word” Campaign. At the beginning of the month, students volunteered at the Special Olympics hosted by Villanova, where they cheered on hundreds of athletes.

Students then took this challenge back to their schools where they all created their own unique campaigns to help Spread the Word to End the R-Word. Each school that participated came up with creative ways to engage their student body and inform them about why they should think before they use the word “retard(ed)”. Students made banners, posters, stickers and T-shirts advocating against the use of the r-word.

[pullquote]We should really think more before we speak.[/pullquote]

“At my school we dedicated a wall in the school entrance and covered it with posters showing statistics, such as the number of intellectually challenged people in the world,” commented Shamarlon Yates from the Science Leadership Academy. “In the middle of the wall we included a petition for students and faculty to sign where they’d pledge to stop using the R-word. We got a lot of people to sign!”

I asked Yates why he feels the R-word should be abolished. “I didn’t know that 1/3 of the population is disabled,” he said. “The R-word is something that’s really grown…especially at schools. I think people say it without even thinking. I’ve said it before. And after reading the facts, I felt bad…I wanted to change the way people think. We should really think more before we speak.”