February 16, 2015

Golisano Foundation Launches 5th Annual Challenge to Spread the Word to End the “R” Word

Spread the Word to End the Word - 03/04/15

March 4th is National R-Word Day! Take a Stand Against Using the Word Retarded

For the 5th year, the Golisano Foundation is spearheading a campaign in Rochester NY to Spread the Word to End the Word ™  

. The campaign is likely one of the largest in the nation to create a more accepting world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.

It aims to build awareness and support for thinking about and making a stand against using the R-word – “retard” or “retarded,” words that have gained popularity in culture, but are offensive and hurtful to many.

These local organizations planning Spread the Word to End the Word pledge activities. If your organization is having a pledge activity, please Email us to share how you are spreading the word and we will add you to this list to recognize your organization.

  • The Advocacy Center – helping coordinate logistics at URMC, Lancers, and Bay Trail
  • Bay Trail Middle School, Penfeld – students involved in multiple activities – March 4
  • Democrat and Chronicle
  • Eastman Institute for Oral Health, Main Street Sibley Bldg, and at University of Rochester Medical Center, staffed by medical and dental students – 4245 East Avenue, Rochester
  • Greater Rochester Collaboration – SUNY Brockport and Nazareth – at downtown campus at 55 St. Paul Street
  • Monroe Community Hospital – March 4
  • Monroe Community College Damon Campus – March 2
  • Monroe Community College Henrietta Campus – March 4
  • Nazareth College – Main Campus, 4245 East Avenue, Rochester – March 4
  • Roberts Wesleyan College – 2301 Westside Dr, Rochester – March 4
  • Rochester Lancers game, BlueCross Arena, Sunday March 1st, 4PM game start
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • University of Rochester River Campus events March 2-6 including:
    • UR Special Olympics
    • People First Initiative
    • Transition Opportunities at UR
    • TOUR Academic Coaches
    • Rochester Center for Community Leadership
    • Burgett Intercultural Center
    • Eye to Eye
  • University of Rochester Medical Center and AADMD – DJ Lui, 10:30am – Noon, and Gregory Street Blues Band – 12pm to 1:30pm, Cafeteria – March 4
  • WXXI Public Broadcasting and the Move to Include Initiative

More than 500,000 people have already signed the pledge and Rochester is once again proud to lead the way,” said Ann Costello, Director of the Golisano Foundation. “Through greater awareness we can inspire other communities to make a dramatic change – and to think before using words that perpetuate the stigma and negative stereotypes.”

“Most people who use the words retard or retarded do not mean to be hateful, but to the millions of people around the world who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families and friends, it is hurtful, and as cruel and offensive as any other slur.”

Spread the Word to End the Word™ was started by youth and is an ongoing effort of Special Olympics International, Best Buddies and other supporters.

“Each year we continue to make an impact and are grateful for the response we receive.  We want to continue to build awareness and keep the message going. We’re asking people, schools, businesses, organizations and communities to take the pledge to end the r- word and use the new r-word, respect. It’s easy, it doesn’t cost anything, it takes just a minute and it can make a big difference.“

“Spread the Word to End the Word” by Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY

How You Can Spread the Word!

  • Go to and take the pledge. It only takes a minute of your time, it doesn’t cost anything and we know that the collective impact can make a difference
  • Visit to get information and resources on how to spread the word to end the word! in schools and organizations.
  • We have posters and stickers for organizations promoting end the word activities.
  • Invite your friends and colleagues to Take the Pledge to stop the hurtful use of the “R-word.”
  • Resources – see r-word website to get started. There are sample emails, tweets and everyting you need to spread the word.

Articles of Interest

A Word Gone Wrong – By Lawrence Downes, Sunday NY Times

A Word Can Be a Matter of Life and Death, by Matthew Holder, President Elect, American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry, and Global Medical Advisor for Special Olympics

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