March 4, 2013

March 6 is Annual Day of Awareness to End the R-Word

Spread the Word to End the Word - flyer

Golisano Foundation Launching 3rd Annual Challenge to Rochester to Spread the Word to End the “R” Word

On March 6, the annual day of awareness of the hurtful use of the R-word, the Golisano Foundation is once again challenging the Rochester community to Spread the Word to End the Word™ tocreate a more accepting world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.

Spread the Word to End the Word ™  aims tobuild awareness for thinking about and making a stand against using the R-word – “retard” or “retarded,” a word that has gained popularity in culture, but is offensive and hurtful to many.

Watch the video message below from Tom Golisano

“Hundreds of thousands of people have already signed the pledge and Rochester can be proud to lead the way,” said Ann Costello, Director of the Golisano Foundation, which has campaigned to Spread the Word to End the Word for three years.  “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.”

URMC Hosting Events to Promote End the R Word on March 6

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and the Golisano Foundation are partnering to promote spread the word to end the word on March 6th in a fun way.  People can come and enjoy performances and sign the pledge. Mobile devices and computers will be available.

  • 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.  – Music by the Gregory Street Blues Band from Monroe Arc, Main Cafeteria
  • 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – DJ Fly Guy Lui, Main Cafeteria

The URMC effort is being spearheaded by Lisa DeLucia, DDS and Steve Sulkes, MD, who formed the UR’s new student chapter of the American Association of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD). The AADMD provides a forum for healthcare professionals who provide clinical care to people with neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities.

“In the history of medicine and till now, people with intellectual disabilities were often referred as “retarded,” said DeLucia. “It is a very judgmental and hurtful term to describe this wonderful population. Unfortunately, this term still shows up in medical literature and in our society. Therefore, an annual awareness day has been created to “Spread the word to end the word.”

Drs. DeLucia and Sulkes and are both recipients of the Golisano Foundation Healthcare Leadership Award, which recognizes clinicians for for their work in this field.

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.“

The awareness campaign includes TV public service announcements featuring Tom Golisano, Chairman of the Golisano Foundation, which air this week.  People can help spread the word and take the pledge year-round in their communities and schools through a number of activities.

How to Take the Pledge & Spread the Word!

  • Go to and take the pledge, and 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.”
  • Watch for Tom Golisano’s public service announcements asking the public to join this effort and help make Rochester #1 in the nation to end the use of the R-word!
  • Visit 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.
  • Resources – see r-word website to get started.
  • Email us to share how you are spreading the work in your organization so we can recognize your organization on our website.

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