Since 2008 or thereabouts there was a movement in America to eliminate the use of the word “retarded” as it is a hurtful and degrading word.
Since I was in grade school, the word was used around me almost daily. It was used to humiliate the struggling students. It was used to bring down those who stood out. It was used to belittle anyone who was different.
I am not innocent of this. My three brothers and I used the “R” on each other because it was part of our vocabulary and we did not know better.
It was not until my brother William was called this by someone else that I saw how it could hurt. Lucky for my brother we were all behind him; unfortunately, many other people are alone and have no one on their side.
In high school, as a Dolphin at MHS, I witnessed bullies use it to devastating degrees on their victims. Again, the victims were alone, different, and or smaller.
As an adult, I see how it has negatively affected people whom I, and my NMPASI team serve.
People with disabilities are not so different from anyone else. They too deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
The “R” word has traditionally been used to hurt people, and more often than not, to hurt people with disabilities.
In 2010, our President Barack Obama stepped up to the plate and signed “Rosa’s Law.” Rosa Marcellino, for whom the law was written, was 9 years old at the time and had Down’s syndrome. She and her family advocated to eliminate “mental retardation” in health and education codes. “Intellectual disability” is now used instead.
I am proud to announce that from my experience, our Public School System has followed suit.
Though law now, it is still up to us individually to live above discrimination. Stand up for the bullied, eliminate the “R” word from our vocabulary and help change our islands for the better.
At NMPASI, we pride ourselves on treating everyone with dignity and respect. We believe that when we focus on similarities and not differences, we learn to appreciate each other and the colorful qualities that we each bring to the table.
So now, I ask you to consider removing the “R” word from your vocabulary to further the Stop the “R” Word Campaign efforts and to treat everyone with dignity and respect. The CNMI is already a wonderful place with wonderful people, but we can still do more.
For more on the “R” word, please call NMPASI at 235-7273 or 4; TTY and Fax at 235-7275; or online atwww.nmpasi.org.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and their family!
Thomas M. Thornburgh
NMPASI Program Manager