March 1, 2017: Spread the Word to End the Word Day

WHEREAS, Spread the Word to End the Word is Special Olympics’ ongoing campaign which asks people to pledge to stop using the “R-word,” as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people; and,

WHEREAS, language affects attitudes and attitudes in turn affect actions. The “R word” is a form of hate speech when used with intent and an unnecessary perpetuator of stigma when used carelessly and thoughtlessly; and,

WHEREAS, the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” were once medical terms with a specific clinical connotation. The pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have since become too widely used in today’s society as slang to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities; and,

WHEREAS, the pejorative use of the “R word” only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity; and,

WHEREAS, Special Olympics and the greater disability community prefer people first language in order to focus on people and their gifts and accomplishments, and to dispel negative attitudes and stereotypes; and,

WHEREAS, Special Olympics is the global leader in providing continuing opportunities, through sports, for people with intellectual disabilities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship; and,

WHEREAS, Special Olympics uses sport as a catalyst for building communities of understanding, inclusion, and respect. The Special Olympics believes that when people “Play Unified” they will Live Unified;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Brian Calley, Acting Governor of the State of Michigan, do hereby proclaim March 1, 2017 as Spread the Word to End the Word Day in Michigan.