Special Olympics officials working to change the community’s voc - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Special Olympics officials working to change the community’s vocabulary

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Wednesday is the 4th National Spread the Word to End the Word Awareness Day, a day to encourage the public to stop using the words retard and retarded for good.

"The End the R-word Campaign is another barrier we are trying to break by eliminating that word that has such a negative connotation to it that's been used freely by many," said Rickey Lopez, Area Director, Special Olympics.

 In 2004 Special Olympics changed its terminology from mental retardation to intellectual disabilities.

Deanna Ramsey's 10-year-old son Braden was diagnosed with autism and mental retardation or MR.

She says she doesn't want her child bullied for a condition he can't control.

"Its hard to see other people use that word and even me even though his diagnosis is MR we don't MR we say mentally challenged," said Ramsey.

Ramsey works in the special needs ministry at her church as well as Lufkin Parks and Recreation and she says the opportunity to compete is vital in molding their self esteem.

"As a parent you want your child to feel as normal as possible and it can help them just grow as an individual for camaraderie with other friends just to know you aren't alone."

 Special Olympics Area Director Rickey Lopez says the R-word is a degrading term and that special needs athletes are just as valuable as anyone on and off the field.

 "The beauty of Special Olympics is that day when they are grabbing that metal and seeing their friends, competitions are like the super bowl for them," said Lopez.

Officials believe the change in terminology will move the community forward and boost the confidence of their athletes.

Special Olympics officials say basketball season just ended for their athletes and they are moving into track and field.

This year's spring games will be April 26th and 27th.

For more information on the R-word campaign visit www.r-word.org

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