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Local Connection: Spread the Word to End the Word

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By: Rick Blangiardi

Growing up you probably heard the adage "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." We all know that this isn't true. That words can be as painful as any wound.

You've heard people use the word R-word -- retard. Maybe you have even used it yourself in passing. For some, this word has become a part of everyday conversation, rattled off without a blink of the eye. And it shouldn't be.

Once used as a medical term, the R-word has become distorted and used as synonyms for "dumb," "stupid" or to describe people with intellectual disabilities.

In a state known for its aloha spirit, we should all be more aware of how stereotypes like this can deeply affect members of our community.

Whether this word is used out of habit or unintentionally, the reality is that the R-word is hate speech.

On Wednesday, March 6, Special Olympics Hawai'i and organizations across the world will celebrate Spread the Word to End the Word Day. I hope you will join me and take a stand to help put an end to the use of the R-word.

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