By Lily Belcher
At the beginning of March, Durant High School students and faculty participated in the Florida Special Olympics’ ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ Day. The Durant National Honor Society and the exceptional student education program participated in the event by passing out ribbons and bracelets, aiming to promote inclusion and condemn the use of the R-word.
“Spread the Word to End the Word is a campaign to raise awareness of the hurtful effects of the word ‘retard(ed)’ and encourage people to pledge to stop using it,” according to the Special Olympics’ website.
Durant has participated in multiple activities to promote inclusion and unity on-campus and in the community this year because of the growing feeling of isolation caused by the coronavirus.
“We are promoting inclusion for all students because here at Durant we are a family and we want to make sure everyone feels like a part of the family, even with disabilities, different nationalities [and] different cultures,” said Durant’s social worker, Evelyn Pearce-Fearon.
Durant’s chapter of the National Honor Society was asked to help Debbie Martinez and her students because National Honor Society members are called to serve their community and uphold ethical and moral principles, which is exemplified through promoting unity at their school.
National Honor Society students and advisors Amanda Beers-Hutchins and Eric Soule began preparing for the event at the beginning of the week, volunteering to make ribbons for students to wear on their shirts and creating posters to put in the windows of the hallways.
Before school and during lunches on March 3, exceptional student education and National Honor Society students volunteered at booths distributing the ribbons and encouraging students to sign a banner “recognizing that our choice of language frames how we think about others … and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”
Students and teachers at Durant wore red shirts saying “Inclusion will change the world” to reinforce the message. Students also signed the banner to pledge to not use the R-word and to condemn the use of the word around school.
For more information about Florida’s Special Olympics Program and to take the pledge to not use the R-word, visit SpecialOlympics.org.