By Rachel Stevens
This week on campus, the Best Buddies student organization hosted a multitude of events surrounding the national campaign “Spread the Word to End the Word,” in an effort to make the campus more aware of those with disabilities.
According to Best Buddies, the week is dedicated to “a week full of advocacy about how the R-word can be hurtful to our friends with disability as well as anyone who holds them in our heart.” Throughout the week, Best Buddies members have been asking students to sign the pledge to stop using the R-word, a step in the right direction towards inclusion. To get the conversation going about respecting those with disabilities, Best Buddies hosted events every day, set up posters and lawn signs to bring awareness to the effects of the R-word, and tabled outside the Pryzbyla Center.
Throughout the week, the different campaigns that Best Buddies promoted while tabling included “Donut Disable Me”, a fundraiser with Dunkin’ Donuts which educated students about person-first language; “Stomp Out the R-Word”, because “it just takes one step in the right direction to start to change one’s language”, according to Best Buddies president Beth McElhiney; and “Pie Out the R-Word”, where Catholic U students could throw whipped cream pies against a sign that said “I pledge to spread respect.” Each tabling event was meant to be fun while also educational.
“All week we have had our best buddies tabling alongside us showing how important this week is,” said McElhiney. “They have explained to countless CUA students how the r-word is hurtful and their reason why. The major goal of this week is to educate the college campus about how people with disabilities are so much more than their label.
The events this week began with a kickboxing class Monday at the Kane fitness center. The class, titled “Kick out the R-word,” was centered around physical fitness and starting the week off in a healthy way. The organization had around 10 people come to the class to learn about the basics of kickboxing and also about the basics of stopping the use of the R-word.
On Tuesday at 7pm in the Pryz great rooms was a “commUNITY panel,” which had open discussion about how “everyone adds something special to our community.” The club reached out to other clubs including the Center for Cultural Engagement, Disability Support Services, and PEERS for collaboration in the event.
Wednesday’s event in Caldwell was a mass and dinner from 6-8pm with Best Buddies. Mama Lucia was served, and open to everyone. The last event to close the week on Thursday was a game night at 6pm in Caldwell auditorium. Bingo and trivia were played with some great prizes.
After a week of events surrounding Best Buddies, the club is certainly more noticed and heard on campus. Instead of the hurtful “R word” that is often used, Best Buddies encourages a new word to be used around campus with our friends, and that is “respect.”
“I always say that everyone has their own special abilities but if we waste time in only seeing someone’s disabilities then we may lose sight of what joys they could bring to our lives,” said
Beth McElhiney and Katie Ward contributed to this article