Monarch hosts rallies to educate, stop use of “R-word”
March rallies part of observance of National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
To discourage the use of the word known as the “R-word,” Monarch will join other organizations and individuals nationwide, in an initiative called “Spread the Word to End the Word,” created in partnership with Special Olympics, Best Buddies and people with and without disabilities.
The campaign takes a stand against a word that has gained popularity in culture, found a place in common language and seems to be accepted by most, despite the fact that its use, casual or otherwise, is hurtful to the more than 200 million people worldwide with disabilities as well as the people who love and support them.
In an effort to educate and raise awareness, Monarch will host several rallies and awareness events:
Event participants will have an opportunity to sign a pledge vowing to help end the use of the R-word. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities – and their families – will discuss their views about the word’s use and impact.
“Use of the word hurts, even if it is not directed at a person with disabilities,” explained Dr. Peggy Terhune, chief executive officer at Monarch and executive director of The Arc of Stanly County. “For too long, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have had to overcome the societal challenges put forth through stereotypes. The word is just as offensive as any other slur and further perpetuates the stigma and negative labels that tag people with intellectual disabilities.”
Monarch’s Spread the Word to End the Word event aligns with National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation to bring attention to, provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help persons with developmental disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives. President Barack Obama reinforced this charge when he signed Rosa’s Law in 2010, removing outdated and derogatory terminology that appeared in earlier federal legislation.
Despite the more positive perception, challenges to full inclusion still exist. But Terhune said she is optimistic that campaigns like Spread the Word to End the Word will bring educational awareness and help debunk stereotypes.
“Through continued education, society is realizing that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are capable and enjoy sharing life experiences – listening to music, playing video games, hanging out with friends with and without disabilities, and yes, having fun. They can attend school, work, drive cars, and get married. At Monarch, we work to ensure the people we support participate in decisions that affect them, and encourage them to contribute to society in many positive ways.”
For more details about “Spread the Word to End the Word,” visit www.r-word.org.
Monarch provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse challenges from more than 50 North Carolina counties. The agency is nationally accredited by The Council on Quality and Leadership and is CABHA certified. Monarch, which operates The Arc of Stanly County, is an affiliate chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States. To learn more about how Monarch is “Helping Dreams Take Flight” for people living in our communities, please call (800) 230-7525 or visit www.MonarchNC.org.