When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.
Old St. Pat’s Family Ministry and regular participants in the bimonthly Special Friends Mass, Foundations Youth Ministry and their Best Buddies, Old St. Pat’s Special Olympics Volunteers, the Old St. Pat’s Hospitality Ministry and the Trinity Volunteer Corps are just some of the groups currently exploring ideas of building a more formalized special needs ministry at Old St. Pat’s. Any and all interested persons are welcome to join in the conversation when we gather in support of the “Spread the Word to End the Word” public awareness campaign which seeks elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promotes the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Please join us in this endeavor with as much or as little time as you have available.
If you have only a little time, visit http://www.r-word.org and take the pledge: “I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”
If you have more time, mark your calendar for Sunday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m., Fr. Jack Wall Mission Center, Room 25, 711 West Monroe, Chicago. Plan to attend a day of awareness event at Old St. Pat’s featuring a Best Buddies Ambassador who will help us learn how to promote the positive contributions made by people with intellectual disabilities in communities around the world combined with a call to action — a pledge to stop using a word — that also symbolizes positive attitude change and a commitment to make the world a more accepting place for all people.
One Best Buddies Ambassador said, “Most people don’t think of this word as the language of hate, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends. I choose to believe that most of us are fundamentally good and that we’re just not aware that the word is offensive and that it hurts.”
If you have any questions, contact Walter Lazard, Cindy & Greg Hunt at 312.810.0092, or firstname.lastname@example.org.