West is Spreading the Word to End the Word
STEUBENVILLE-The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities is observing Developmental Disabilities (DD) Awareness Month for March, and one effort is to eliminate a certain word from society’s vocabulary.
Cookie West, employment navigator and community facilitator, has been visiting schools and addressing students about Spread the Word to End the Word, a campaign to stop using the R-word, or retard, since it is seen as a derogatory term regarding people with special needs. In this age of societal inclusion, West is talking to youth about the importance of community and understanding how those with developmental disabilities are an important part of it.
“Spread the Word to End the Word is a national campaign to encourage people to pledge to stop using the word ‘retard.’ Advocates believe the use of the word in everyday speech is hurtful and dehumanizing to individuals with special needs.”
She visited third-graders at Pugliese West Elementary on March 12 and was heading to Karaffa Elementary on March 21, where she spoke to third-through fifth-graders about the topic. The students also pledged to not use the R-word and could sign up online with the national initiative at www.r-word.org.
West added that students were very inquisitive about the R-word’s origin, which started a medical term but has since had a negative connation.
Throughout the month, West has observed DD Awareness Month, from attending DD Awareness and Advocacy Day at the Statehouse in Columbus on March 5 to leading informational sessions about transition services on March 26.
“It was great to hear how our state government is working on behalf of individuals who have special needs,” she added, saying government leaders and agencies were involved in the program earlier this month.
Meanwhile, two informational sessions will be held from 10-11 a.m. at the Schiappa Branch Library on 4141 Mall Drive and from 6-7 p.m. at the Jeffco Training Center/PALS site located at 2550 Cherry Ave. The purpose is to help developmentally disabled youth successfully transition into adulthood and a professionally trained support team will be on hand to answer questions and provide details about available services within the community.
(Photo Cutline: Cookie West, employment navigator and community facilitator for the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, addresses third-graders at Pugliese West Elementary about the Spread the Word to End the Word movement to eliminate the R-word from society’s vocabulary.)