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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Best Buddies club urges ending use of ‘R-word’

The University of Arizona Best Buddies, a club that promotes the rights of individuals with disabilities, is raising awareness to eliminate the derogatory use of the word “”retarded.””

The club, reestablished earlier this month, stems from the nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Thursday, they had a table on the UA Mall where students could pledge to support the elimination of the derogatory use of the “”R-word”” from everyday speech and promote the acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities.

Janelle Moore, a freshman majoring in special education and a creator of Best Buddies at UA, said that the idea behind the campaign to eliminate the derogatory use of the word “”retarded”” is to promote equality.

“”When people use the word retarded, they use it as a slur,”” she said. “”It creates a negative stereotype for people with disabilities, and it is our job to realize that it’s not okay. Disabled people can’t always stand up for themselves.””

Moore explained that creating awareness for the cause is the best place to start because when people begin talking about it, they begin thinking about it, even if they don’t agree with it.

Brad Efune, a pre-business freshman and another one of the club’s creators, said he has never understood why people use the word “”retarded”” synonymously with the word “”stupid.””

“”Just because someone is different, you don’t have to marginalize them,”” he said.

Efune said that the campaign was a good start to fight ignorance, and by informing and educating his friends about the hurt behind the word “”retarded,”” they could pass that information along to others.

Once people in the UA community pledge to support the club’s campaign, the group will send the signatures to the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International, who received about 7 million signatures last year, according to Efune. The UA is one of five colleges campaigning to eliminate the “”R-word.””

The UA club meets once a month in addition to mandatory buddy hangouts at least twice a month. Efune explained that activities can be as simple as getting lunch together or seeing a movie.

“”Just being with the person and creating a friendship is the most important,”” he said.

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