For the third consecutive year, Du-Buddies hosted the End the R-word annual event. The event is a week-long campaign aimed at eliminating the word “retarded”.
“The main goal of the campaign is to eliminate the derogatory use of the word ‘retarded’ from the English language” said Mary Dodson, president of Du Buddies.
The campaign’s goal is to promote the human dignity of each individual. Du Buddies partnered with several organizations such as, eDucation Club, CAB, and the Catholic Identity Committee, to sponsor this year’s campaign, with the theme, “Du Buddies P.E.E.R.S. End the R-Word”. Through this theme, the campaign was aimed at promoting Participation, Equality, Empowerment, Respect, and Socialization (P.E.E.R.S.). In addition, each weekday embodied one of the words from the acronym.
To kick-start the campaign, Du Buddies held a Du-Buddies families panel. This event celebrated Participation by bringing in Mary Schroeder, the mother of one of the buddies, and Josh and his mother Kathy Brokus, who are members of the Du-Buddies community. These panelists spoke about their journey with Du-Buddies and the significance of this week in their lives. As Mary Dodson remarked, the Du-Buddies community is “lucky to have them share their inspirational stories.”
To celebrate Tuesday’s mini theme, Equality, Du-Buddies partnered with the Intercultural Programs Office to host a DuTalk on the topic of Equality and ending the R-word. Although the discussions were fruitful, the most memorable moment of the event was when two buddies, Jayne Sudmeier and Kellie Klein, who are in the Du-Buddies executive board, gave personal testimonies.
“End the R-Word means you need to respect others, not treat them badly, and not hurt their feelings. Think before you talk, because when you say the r-word it hurts. When I hear the r-word, I feel angry. It has to stop. My Du-Buddies family has been so supportive of me and I am very grateful for them,” said Klein.
“End the R-Word Week is about treating people with respect. I’m not ‘retarded’ and I am not stupid. I am Jayne, a group leader of Du-Buddies. I feel happy when people give me the courtesy of respecting me and my circumstances. I want people to take action and speak out for all those with disabilities and say they care for them. I want all the students at Loras College and in Du-Buddies to be respected and loved for all time,” said Sudmeier in her testimony.
Wednesday was a t-shirt decorating day. Everyone from the Loras and Du-Buddies community was invited to bring their own t-shirt to decorate and wear at the talent show, which was held on Friday. This was followed by a prayer service on Thursday, promoting Respect. “It was nice to bring the faith element into the week,” said Dodson.
To end the campaign, Du-Buddies held a talent show, featuring people from the Du-Buddies community, both inside and outside of Loras. The idea was for everyone to socialize and have fun, to prove that we can interact with one another regardless of our mental challenges. Most importantly, the goal of this event was to show that people that are mentally challenged can and should be part of society.
“We hope the week helped make everyone at Loras more aware of the importance of promoting human dignity. Our buddies are our peers, and they should be treated with respect and equality,” said Dodson.