February 17, 2016

Golisano Foundation Launches 6th Annual Challenge to Spread the Word to End the “R” Word

Spread the Word to End the Word graphic

March 2, 2016 is National R-word Day of Awareness! Take a Stand Against Using the Word Retarded

Take the Pledge

For the sixth year, the Golisano Foundation is challenging the Rochester community to Spread the Word to End the R-Word™. The campaign, which has become one of the largest in the country for a single region, is being held on the national Spread the Word to End the Word day of awareness on March 2. It asks people to pledge to take a stand against using the R-word, “retard” or “retarded.”  The r-word has gained popularity in culture, but is offensive and derogatory to people with developmental disabilities. Spread the Word to End the Word was started by youth and is an ongoing effort of Special Olympics International and Best Buddies. Each year the foundation’s goal is to reach out to more people who can spread the word and pledge to use respectful language that promotes more accepting attitudes for all people including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.

Here are 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.


University of Rochester Medical Center (601 Elmwood Ave., Rochester)

  • Strong Café 401 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.): Banner signing; t-shirts and stickers to be handed out; Monroe ARC Gregory Street blues band to perform from Noon-1:30 p.m.
  • Eastman Institute for Oral Health Atrium (All-day): poster signing, photos and awareness. Student performances. TOUR program in attendance/helping.
  • University of Rochester River Campus (252 Elmwood Ave)
    • Wilson Commons Bridge Lounge, 3rd floor (11 a.m. – 4 p.m).: Student run initiative; banner signing; student performers; Transition Opportunities at UR (TOUR) students will be in attendance (TOUR is an inclusive college experience at UofR for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities age 18-21).
    • UR Warner School of Eduction Institute for Innovative Transition (Genrich-Rusling Room, LeChase 215) (Noon – 12:50 p.m.): Lunch talk with Martha Mock, PhD, Director of Inclusion at Warner and the Director of the Institute for Innovative Transition, and Cori Piels, Inclusion Specialist from MCC and AmeriCorps, who’s featured in the micro-documentary series “The Opportunity Project.”
  • University at Buffalo (South Campus)
    • School of Dental Medicine Lobby (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.): Dental students involved, banner signing, raise awareness among staff, students and patients.
    • Harriman Hall (Cafe) (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.): Dental Students involved, banner signing, 100 t-shirt giveaways, photos, raise awareness
  • University at Buffalo (North Campus)
    • Student Union (11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.): Ran by Students involved in the Undergraduate Biology Association (UBA), banner signing, raise awareness, 100 t-shirt giveaways
  • City Hall of Buffalo (lobby) (10:30 a.m. – 2:30pm): UB Smile Team, banner signing by Mayor and his team, 150 t-shirt giveaways
  • University Pediatric Dentistry (8 locations-all day): Clinical and non-clinical staff are involved; banner/posters signing, collecting signatures from staff, as well as parents and patients.
  • Golisano Center for Community Health, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical: Taking the pledge by signing a poster in cafeteria.
  • Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Lee Memorial Health System, Fort. Myers, FL
  • Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, Syracuse, NY
  • Baytrail Middle School (Penfield): Student taking the pledge by signing poster.
  • Pittsford Mendon High School: Taking the pledge by signing a banner.
  • Bishop Kearney High School: A member of the Rochester Knighthawks will help with banner signing during two lunch periods.
  • McQuaid High School: The Rochester Razor Sharks will help with banner signing during two lunch periods.
  • Mercy High School: Pledge signing during homeroom and lunch period.
  • Monroe Community College: Pledge signing in foyer by SADHA (Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association).
  • Nazareth College: Life Prep program will be helping with banner signings and tabling.
  • RIT: Banner signing in the Student Union; social media push.
  • Roberts Wesleyan College: Banner signing with the education department and nursing students.
  • Mary Cariola Children’s Center: Internal promotion encouraging staff to take pledge; Promoting on Facebook encouraging followers to also sign the pledge.
  • Special Olympics Genesee Region: Will have athlete ambassadors in attendance at URMC.
  • RMSC: Will be posting videos on social media to encourage taking the pledge; encouraging staff to pledge; information given out at front admissions desk.
  • The National Museum of Play: Will display poster at entrance for guests to see; Encouraging employees to take the pledge.


  • Hochstein School of Music and Dance: Pledge signing during Brockport Orchestra concert.

“Spread the Word to End the Word” by Bishop Kearney

Students at the College of Brockport join the nationwide effort to help end the use of the R-word.

“Spread the Word to End the Word” by the Rochester Knighthawks

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

How You Can Spread the Word!

  • Organize a Pledge Event
    Go to and take the pledge, and to get information and resources on how to Spread the word to end the word in schools, companies and organizations.
  • Email the Foundation with Pledge Activities
    The Foundation will recognize those organizations that are spreading the word on the web site.  To be included organizations should send an email to
  • Social Media
    We will also be following along on social media. Tag us in your pictures and tweets on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #respect and #rword.

Articles of Interest


Related Posts

Festival of Inclusion Returns Saturday February 24 Featuring 80+ Organizations Serving the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Community

Festival of Inclusion Returns Saturday February 24 Featuring 80+ Organizations Serving the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Community

Free! 11AM – 2PM at Nazareth's Golisano Training Center—Interactive Creative Activities & Demonstrations The Golisano Foundation, Special Olympics, and Best Buddies are joining together to host the third annual Festival of Inclusion on Saturday, February 24. The...

read more