Students take pledge to end offensive phrase

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW)- Nationwide, students are taking a pledge to “spread the word to end the word.” The goal is to stop students from using the “R” word to describe people who have a disability.

UWSP student Anna McCartney worked with three different campus organizations to spread that one cohesive message, to respect everyone and their abilities.

"It really is starting to spread, I can see it being very well received over the next couple of years, we just have to keep being educated about it,” McCartney said.

McCartney works at the university’s Disability and Assistive Technology Office where respect is emphasized every day, but she’s seen the message spread beyond her own campus.

Students at DC Everest Senior High were able to sign the same pledge.
"It's not just a word that can be thrown out there, it's not just a synonym for stupid or something in the way it's been made to be, so we want to set it aside and choose different words for people and put people first,” Senior Preston Winowiski said.

Winowiski is one of many students whose names are now on a banner posted in the school’s cafeteria as a reminder.

"There's definitely people who go around saying it to make themselves look cool and it really doesn't, and I don't think that some people realize that people with disabilities understand what you're saying,” Senior Rachel Sankey said.

Sankey tries to politely correct people when they use the term in front of her, a small example of how the campaign is making an impact.

"I think it really does start with the younger generations and if they never grow up with it in their vocabulary, or they just always know the term respect. I think that would just be huge.” McCartney said.

March 7 is the campaign’s national day of awareness and nearly 750,000 people have signed the “spread the word to end the word." If you are interested in signing the official online pledge, you can do so here.