Young people around the world are taking a stand by raising awareness of the dehumanizing and hurtful affects of the words “retard” and “retarded” and encouraging others to think before they speak. Over the years, the R-word has become a common taunt used to make fun of others. Often unwittingly, the word is used to denote behavior that is clumsy, hapless, and even hopeless. But whether intentional or not, the word conjures up a painful stereotype of people with intellectual disabilities.

Spread the Word to End the Word™

We challenge you to change the conversation in your local schools and communities by helping to eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word and replace it with “respect.” This will help create a more accepting world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and all those people that may appear different, but have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.


Replace the R-word with Respect

Past Highlights

In Wisconsin, students, educators, and organizations are helping to spread the new R-word, respect, in their communities. Some communities and schools participate in the national awareness day in March while others plan activities at different times throughout the year. Here are just a few examples of how some Wisconsin communities have participated so far since 2009:

College Campuses

At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the Student Affairs Office and Student Housing office provided information to their live-in staff to start discussions, bulletin boards and other programs. The live-in staff (Resident Directors, Resident Assistants, Senior Assistants) in the dorms actively spread the word to students across the campus.

Special Olympics Wisconsin Athletes Spread the Word

The Athlete Input Council, which is comprised of Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete leaders from across the state, also participate in the R-word campaign. In 2010, Athlete Input Council member Martha Hill brought the campaign to her workplace at Woodlake Market in Kohler where she stuffed grocery bags with cards that had the Spread the Word to end the Word logo, websites and “Let the world know that the word ‘retard’ hurts”.


Activities for Teaching about Tolerance and Hurtful Language

Spread the Word to End the Word Resouces

More Resources


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