Best Buddies Strives to End the R-Word


Best Buddies member Vanessa Falzarano, far right, explains the yarn game. (Photo by Mary Ann McKinney)

Tarynn Noll and Hannah Devoe

Are you ready to put an end to the R-word?

Best Buddies presented the Spread the R-word Campaign in the beginning of March to spread acceptance of those with intellectual disabilities and to convey how words can impact

Best Buddies is a club that focuses on building friendships between students by participating in activities here and outside of school. This club is an international organization separated by chapters, wirh a network of 70,000 friends across America.   

The Warren Hills chapter of Best Buddies started the week with morning announcements stating the effects of using the R-word.

“Most people use the R-word in conversation, not realizing the impact it has on others, but to those with an intellectual disability, the word is demeaning and hurtful,” the announcer read.

Best Buddies’ culminating activity for the week was a showcase on changing the conversation by eliminating the use of the R-word from today’s popular speech and replacing it with “RESPECT.”

First they played a stand up activity by asking multiple questions and if the students related, they stood. After this they had the students pick up a pink sheet of paper with two columns, on which to write their strengths and their weaknesses. The officers   shared theirs first, and then the audience shared. Then, everyone tore off  their “weaknesses” and threw them away.

Next, they showed a few video clips that explained the importance of their club and what they participate in.

After they presented a Powerpoint,  they split into small  groups where they played a game asking everyone multiple questions. This was to show that you have differences and similarities to many people.

For freshman Sydney Smith, the showcase was a learning experience.

“I learned that using the R word isn’t the same as using dumb or stupid,” Smith said. “My favorite activity was probably the yarn throwing where we learned things about each other.”

During lunch and this showcase, Best Buddies members had students sign a banner that says” spread the word to end the R-word.”

Best Buddies President Paulina Georgoutsos shared her insight on what she hoped for the week.

“Our goal [was] to promote inclusion and educate our peers on the negative effects that the R-word has on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their family and friends,” she said. “We want everyone to be able to define themselves using their strengths—not their weaknesses.”

Vice President Kayla McLagan said her favorite part  was the community outreach.

“My favorite part of the week was being able to help make a difference and impact on the students who may not have known that their words and actions can hurt others,” McLagan said. “Throughout our showcase, I loved being able to meet new people and educate them about the consequences of their words, as well as the importance of inclusion.”