Retard (noun): a contemptuous term used to refer to a person who is cognitively impaired, or a person who is stupid, obtuse or ineffective in some way.
At some point in our lives, we have all said it. We may have been young and dumb; maybe we were at a party with friends; maybe it was yesterday and it just came out in casual conversation.
Instead of saying something along the lines of "that is so DUMB." We said it.
When our friend did something incredibly stupid. We said it.
Maybe we saw someone in a public venue who was acting out of sorts and our first reaction was to say that they must be it.
Like many words throughout history, this word has morphed. It has changed in meaning from a common term used by many without offense, to a word that is no longer considered socially acceptable. Yet for some reason, it is still widely used.
It's time to make a change in the way we talk to and about others.
This is Cody.
At first glance you probably see a boy in a wheelchair. A boy who can't do many things for himself. A boy who some would say is retarded.
I see a boy who has endured more in his 17 years of life than I have in my 38. He has a steel rod in his back and he takes a pharmacy worth of medications every single day just to make his body work. A boy with the strength of Hercules and a heart of pure gold.
A boy who loves going to the pool in the summer and for strolls around the neighborhood to feel the sunshine on his face.
A boy who loves to watch SpongeBob or the Minions in Despicable Me as he receives his life-saving infusions once a month.
A teenager who can eat you under the table if it involves pizza, hot dogs or Cheez-Its.
A boy who knows how to get your attention by giving you a pinch on the arm and will certainly laugh at you when a scream comes out of your mouth.
I see a boy whose laugh is contagious and loves being the center of attention.
I see a boy who is caring, funny, intelligent and strong.
I see love and a smile that can light up a room.
I see my nephew.
Kathryn and her brother Evan are some pretty incredible kids as well.
They are active in community events together.
They are siblings who love to talk to Katherine's guinea pigs named Leo and Georgie. Evan loves to feed Georgie carrots and it bothers him that Leo likes to climb up the walls of the cage.
Siblings who love to listen and dance to "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz and "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 together.
Siblings who love to perfect the art of the selfie with a little help from the PhotoBooth app on Katherine's Macbook.
Siblings who love to laugh together. Play together. Dance together. Love together.
Modern-day siblings who enjoy their time together as well as their time apart.
In many brother/sister relationships it is the brother that protects the sister. He comes to her rescue when things go awry and defends her at all costs.
With Katherine and Evan, though, that is not always the case. You see, Evan has Down syndrome, and Katherine often finds herself being the protector, so she decided to do something important.
Something to make a difference.
She wanted to initiate change in her community.
She wanted to step up and show her classmates that when they use the R-word in conversation, it hurts. It hurts not only her, but it hurts Evan and it hurts their entire family.
Take two minutes and thirty seconds to watch her video.
The only way to make the change, is to BE the change.
Visit www.r-word.org to find out how you can be the change.
A huge thank you to Katherine for being a shining light. Thank you for BEING the change.