iOS app Android app More

Special Olympics, Best Buddies Join Forces To Ban The 'R-Word'

Max Seidman

First Posted: 03/ 7/2012 7:32 pm Updated: 03/ 8/2012 12:05 am

Nine-year-old Max is bright, funny and motivated. He also has cerebral palsy, a condition his mom fears will lead people to insult him with insensitive slurs.

Max's mom, Ellen Seidman, is one of more than 260,000 people who have pledged to put an end to the use of the demeaning word, "retarded." Now in its third year, the "Spread the Word to End the Word," campaign urges people to consider the term's connotation and advocate to ban it.

"Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities," the organizations announced in a press release. "However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the word 'retard(ed).'"

The campaign, -- a collaboration between the Special Olympics and Best Buddies -- celebrates its annual day of awareness on the first Wednesday of every March, according to the initiative's website. It's spread so far as to help spawn government legislation, according to CNN. President Barack Obama passed Rosa's Law in 2010, which eliminated the use of the words "retarded" and "retardation" in federal health, education and labor laws.

The bill also changed "mental retardation" to "intellectual disability" and refers to a "mentally retarded individual" as an "individual with an intellectual disability," the news outlet reports.

The Special Olympics and Best Buddies encourage advocates to partake in pledge drives, youth rallies and online activism, something with which Seidman is very familiar.

The magazine and blog editor frequently writes about the experience of raising a child with special needs on her blog, "Love That Max." Seidman shared a charming video of her son in her post Wednesday that offers a peek into the painful sting that such insulting words leave behind.

"Ultimately, this isn't just about a word -- it's about respect," Seidman wrote on her blog Wednesday. "It's about getting people to consider kids and adults with cognitive impairment equal members of society."

FOLLOW HUFFPOST IMPACT

Filed by Eleanor Goldberg  |