Everyone knows someone who is affected by some type of mental illness or disability, whether it’s a family member, friend, classmate, or just someone walking down the street. The people who are affected by any sort of mental disability aren’t just the people who are diagnosed with them. The people closest to these individuals are also offended when hurtful words are said. The most common and most hurtful word is the r-word. The r-word is often used as a joke or insult in our society and it is definitely not okay. This word is offensive and hurtful to anyone with a mental illness or to anyone who is close to someone with a mental illness or disability.
Mrs. Jennifer Thilges, is advocating to end the word within our school. Thilges’ ten year old son Owen is living with Down Syndrome and he is the one who inspired her to start spreading the word to end the word. Thilges finds it extremely offensive when anyone uses the r-word saying, “If you know someone with a disability of any kind it’s very offensive.” There have been multiple occasions where the r-word has been used around Thilges and Owen. There are even adults who work in a professional environment who don’t know how much that word can affect someone. One of the main problems is that people just aren’t educated on what the r-word really is or how it makes other people feel. That’s why Thilges has started promoting “Spread the word to end the word” at MHS.
Each adult in the school will receive a t-shirt that supports the cause and they will wear them on the same day to spread awareness. During each lunch hour there will be a table set up where students can go and sign a pledge stop saying the r-word and to help encourage others not to say it. Having students and adults around the school become more aware of the r-word is one of the first steps to ending the usage of it. “The big takeaway is to help empower people and show awareness…” Thilges said, “… and to show that we are all more alike than we are different.”
Thilges wants everyone to remember that there is most likely someone in our lives that is affected by some type of mental disability or illness, and that the r-word is offensive in many ways to those people. The easiest way to prevent problems or hurting people’s feelings is by simply not using the r-word and remembering how bad it can make someone feel.