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R-Word in the Crosshairs in WI Today

March 3, 2010

MADISON, Wis. - Sticks and stones may break bones, but the part about names 'never hurting' anyone? It just isn't true. Advocates for people with intellectual disabilities in Wisconsin are part of today's national campaign asking that the pejorative use of the words "retard" and "retarded" be eliminated.

Kelly Kleopping, a spokesperson for the Special Olympics in Wisconsin says it's time for these derogatory terms to go.

"The word conjures up a lot of stereotypes of people that have developmental and intellectual disabilities, and it hurts."

Events are being held across the state under the banner, "Spread the Word to End the Word." Kleopping says they're being sponsored by a coalition of groups hoping to end the hurtful speech.

"We have an incredible number of events going on this month around the March 3rd awareness day."

People can find event locations and also sign an online pledge to stop using these terms at www.R-word.org. Kleopping explains the Special Olympics organization began referring to "intellectual disabilities" in 2004, after deciding that the term "mental retardation" perpetuated the taunts endured by many people with disabilities.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI