Spread the Word to End the Word campaign to be celebrated on March 2


Jillian Stauffer, Writer

Spread the Word to End the Word is a campaign to raise awareness on the hurtful effects of the “R” word and encourage people to pledge to stop using it. A national awareness day is held on the first Wednesday of each March, and will take place on March 2. Many schools choose to incorporate this campaign onto their campus, including here at Owatonna High School. 

At OHS, the hope of this campaign is to raise awareness on the harmful effects of the R word towards the many students who still use it as a regular part of their vocabulary. Senior Justice Holmes said, “It’s really frustrating to see how many students here will throw this word around without thinking of how it affects others.” This is also a time to focus on how OHS can better incorporate students with disabilities into student life. Special Education Teacher Ms. Michele Ulferts said, “I would love to see students with disabilities be more a part of mainstream high school things like dances and Snow Week.” It is important to constantly be thinking of ways to include all in the school and community.

The campaign was founded in 2009 by college students Soeren Palumbo and Tim Shriver with the focus of not only eliminating the use of the R word but also to strive for inclusion for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since 2009, over 840,000 people and more than 6,000 schools have participated in signing the online pledge to stop using hurtful language and work towards inclusion. 

OHS students will be able to participate in this campaign by signing the “End The R Word” pledge in common areas at lunch. By signing this pledge, it signifies to that student and others that they will remove dehumanizing language from their vocabulary and work to include others at the high school and in the community. Students will also receive bracelets about inclusion to raise awareness. Ms. Ulferts said, “My hope would be to see every single student and staff member’s name on that pledge.” While signing a name on a pledge or wearing a bracelet is a symbolic action that does very little in the real world, it can be a step in the right direction for the school as a whole to learn ways to spread inclusivity.