Today, March 5 2014, marks the day of the annual Spread the Word to End the Word campaign. This campaign aims to spread awareness that the use of the R-word needs to come to a halt. What word are they talking about? The word “retard.” Retard is a word that is often used in the wrong context. Whether people use it as a noun or adjective, it is an offensive and harsh term to use. “Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect action,” claims the campaign. The hashtag #spreadthewordtoendtheword is now trending on twitter, and it is thanks to the help of this campaign and people like John Franklin Stephens that awareness is spreading so rapidly.
On the outside, John Franklin Stephens is a 30 year old with Down syndrome. By definition, Down syndrome is a congenital disorder arising from a chromosome defect, causing intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities including short stature and a broad facial profile. It arises from a defect involving chromosome 21. But what you may not know about Mr. Stephens is that he is a Global Messenger for the Special Olympics.
He created quite the uproar on social media when his letter to Ann Coulter went viral. Ann Coulter decided to publicly call President Obama the R-word on her twitter account. Mr. Stephens politely responded with a letter, to which his key point was, “You, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.” Mr. Stephens is an inspiration to not only the community that is affected by the R-word, but to anyone who stands up for what they believe in. To read Mr. Franklin’s letter, follow this link: http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/an-open-letter-to-ann-coulter/
Decide today that it is time to make a change. That we are all equal, no matter what we look like, how we think, how we talk, or how many chromosomes we may have. Take the pledge now: http://r-word.org/r-word-pledge.aspx