Celebrating inclusion in Spread the Word to End the Word rally


J. Inscore

Radiating smiles, members of a unified champion school join together onstage to celebrate inclusion. At the Spread the Word to End the Word rally in downtown Raleigh this past Tuesday, students with disabilities, as well as their peers, shared personal stories on how the use of the R-word can negatively impact so many.

Janie Inscore, Staff Reporter

 This past Tuesday, April 2, unified champion schools sponsored by the Special Olympics of North Carolina joined together for a rally celebrating the inclusion of all disabled high school students. The rally was centered around the idea of spreading the word to end the R-word and to instead replace it with the word respect. The R-word is not only incredibly demeaning, but it is also hurtful and dehumanizing to the disabled community and each of their unique abilities. The Spread the Word to End the Word campaign chooses to include everyone and focuses strongly on informing society of the worth and dignity of all special needs people. This message was evident in many ways this Tuesday, as the inclusive clubs of North Carolina’s high schools joined together to dance, sing, take pictures, speak, and celebrate each other’s differences. Senior Peyton Spainhour attended this event, stating that, “Special Olympics is more than something just special for me! I love that my school and club can be a part of an amazing event like the Spread the Word to End the Word rally, and I hope that I can see them return to many more!”

 The event was held at William Peace University in downtown Raleigh and was hosted by Northwood High School. Inside the auditorium where the rally was held, the event began with the signing of a banner pledging inclusion. This banner, with all of its signatures, symbolized solidarity amongst students, disabled or not, who are negatively affected by the use of the R-word. As a part of the Spread the Word campaign, it is said that language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions. By being more conscious of the use of the R-word, students everywhere can begin creating a more accepting environment for all people. Upon walking in to the rally, students were given the chance to make the ‘pinky promise’ to include, in alignment with the rally’s country-western theme. Also in line with this theme were the colorful bandanas, rodeo-style music, and western tattoos given out to commemorate such a special day for all of those who are impacted by an intellectual or developmental disability. This special day also happened to be World Autism Day, which was all the more reason for the members of Millbrook’s Best Buds club to join in the celebration.

 The goal of this rally, despite all of the fun had, was to inspire a spirit of inclusion amongst everyone in attendance. This message, spread by the Special Olympics of North Carolina, the campaign aforementioned, and the impactful speeches given, is meant to go further than just North Carolina. The inability to be understood and accepted is a feeling that many have never felt, but that those with disabilities feel everyday. If everyone chooses to accept those with disabilities for their differences, and to stop the derogatory use of the R-word, a more conscientious and inclusive society can result.