Organization celebrates inclusive attitudes nationwide
By Laura Quain
Assistant Copy Editor
Spread the Word to End the Word celebrated “Spread the Word Day” in the MSU on March 1. Representatives of the group were posted outside of Starbucks hosting a bake sale to raise money for their participation in the Autism Speaks Walk.
The group was collecting pledges for people to stop using the R-word, in order to help to create more inclusive attitudes for all.
On campus, the KU group hosts guest speakers from places like the Autism Center and the Down Syndrome Center. In addition, they are aiming to raise money to work with Best Buddies.
According to their website, Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The group currently has 200 people on their e-mail list, though due to scheduling conflicts, meetings typically have about 25 people. The group is hoping to raise money in order to host more events.
According to Lauren Meyer, a social work major, the group used to be made up of entirely education majors. Recently, the group has gained a more diverse collection of advocates.
“Unfortunately, I was raised in a home where that word is used a lot, so it was a part of my vocabulary. My roommate is actually the president of Spread the Word to End the Word, and she heard me say it and eventually mentioned it to me,” said Meyer.
The group was handing out notecards with things that can be said to people who use the word, to make people more comfortable with confronting them.
“I know a lot of people who use it and I know that it’s offensive. Especially knowing some of the Special Olympics athletes, I know that they find that word very offensive,” said Casey Biddle, KU elementary education major.
Biddle doesn’t always correct people who use the R-word, but feels a strong connection to the cause after working with Special Olympics athletes.
Morgan Bazquez, a management major, has always tried to approach people who use the R-word and didn’t know that there was a group on campus dedicated to the cause. Bazquez joined after helping out at the Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics will be held at KU this May. Last year’s event had over 1,000 athletes.
Spread the Word meets on Wednesday nights at 5 p.m. in Beekey. Those interested can pledge at: http://www.r-word.org.