Mainstream Living

A Special Feature from Mainstream's ACE Program

This month, we celebrate the  “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign.  This campaign is based upon the idea that nobody should use disrespectful language regarding people with disabilities, in particular, the “R”-word.  The Advocacy, Connections, & Empowerment (ACE) Program at Mainstream Living has been heavily involved with the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign for the past several years.  They have done things like create buttons, posters, and t-shirts, asked people to sign the pledge, and even helped staff a table at the state house!  Last year Amber, a member of the ACE Program gave a speech regarding this movement at a function through The ARC of Story County.  Below is a transcript of her speech:


Hi, my name is Amber. I do Special Olympics with The Arc of Story County. I love all of the sports and I love all of my coaches. Thank you, coaches, for being there for all of us! I would like to talk to all of you about the R-word.  I really hate the R-word because I got called the R-word all the time in high school. Everyone said it to me and my friends so much! They would say the R-word when I passed them in the hallway. They would also call my friends the word and it made me cry and made me really angry. I told someone that other kids called me the R-word and they didn’t care! It made me really mad! 

Last summer at the softball diamonds by the football stadium, we were having softball practice. During this practice, we were practicing catching groundballs and practicing batting. At the beginning of practice, a group of college boys started playing kickball on the field across from us. For awhile, they were minding their own business but then they started using the R-word. They would catch and kick the ball and call each other the R-word anytime they didn’t do well. They were yelling the word really loud and we all started noticing! Hearing this word made me feel very uncomfortable and I felt like they were saying it directly to me. I felt so upset that I wanted to cry. I got called the R-word all the time and so hearing it made me really upset. Because of this, I really just don’t like the word used at all! Although this is a sad example, I am really glad that Lauren, our coach, stepped in and talked to them about it. I didn’t really feel comfortable talking to them by myself and I’m happy that Lauren did. 

Along with people using the R-word in a bad way, it also hurts me when people use other words like this. Yesterday, at work, some of my co-workers were giving a tour of the building. During this tour, they walked into the room that I was working in to show the visitors around. The tour guide that was showing the visitors around said that the room we were working in was a room for the ‘mentally challenged’. We told our bosses that the tour guide said that to the visitors and one of our bosses told us to write to the HR people about the problem. My friend and I are planning to do this. It shocked my friends and I when the tour guide said that. My face got really red and it made me angry. I was shocked because that was really unprofessional of the tour guide to say. The R-word and language like this is used in a bad way so many times that it makes people really upset. We should stop using the R-word! The R-word doesn’t mean were slow, some people are really fast!

For more information on this campaign or to sign the pledge, please visit:

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