Partners In Learning standing against “R-word” today

  • Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 11:48 p.m.
    UPDATED: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 1:09 a.m.

SALISBURY — A local child care center is joining in a nationwide effort today to stop the use of words like “retard” and “mentally retarded.”

Between 6:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. today, the public is invited to sign a pledge not to use the “R-word” at Partners In Learning Child Development and Family Resource Center.


Partners In Learning is holding the “Spread the Word to End the Word” event to help raise awareness of how the “R-word” can hurt people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The word “retarded” literally means “slow” and was once used as a diagnosis for those who lagged behind in mental development.

Now, teenagers and even adults use it to insult and make fun of each other, said Norma Honeycutt, executive director of Partners In Learning.

“For children or adults with intellectual disabilities - which would be the appropriate word - it is a slur, and it’s a put-down for them,” Honeycutt said. “It degrades and devalues them as human beings. It’s no different than slurs for other minorities.”

People can stop by Partners In Learning, 2386 Robin Road in Salisbury, before 6 p.m. today to sign a pledge not to use the word.

Honeycutt said someone will be waiting inside to greet visitors and direct them to the center’s resource room.

“We’re actually going to have some food set up - just little snacks - and some information about disabilities,” she said.

The event is part of a nationwide “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign organized by the Special Olympics, Best Buddies and their supporters. It was founded by college students Soeren Palumbo and Tim Shriver in 2009.

Today is the annual “Day of Awareness,” which is held the first Wednesday of every March.

“So far, nationally, there’s been about 350 million online pledges,” Honeycutt said Tuesday afternoon. “We want to add to that.”

Those who can’t come to the event but want to sign the pledge can find it online at www.r-word.org.

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

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