SPARKS R Word Campaign

Sarah Pinkerton, Editorial Editor

SPARKS club will soon be launching the annual “R word” campaign for the 3rd year in a row in order to spread awareness about the negative results of using the word “retarded” in a derogatory way.

“My officers and I hope to educate and inform those who previously didn’t know that using the R word can hurt, even if it was used as a joke. We also hope to reach out to anyone who disagrees with our stance to hopefully provide them with another side of the argument they hadn’t taken into consideration before,” President Jacqueline La Perna said.

There will be a table set up in the cafeteria at lunches during the second week of March where students will be able to pledge against using the R word in their daily vocabulary and will then be able to sign a banner and receive a wristband proving their pledge.

“Students can get involved by spreading the word about the campaign, pledging once campaign week comes, and then fulfilling the pledge by taking the R word out of their vocabulary and asking others to do the same if they hear the word being used,” La Perna said.

Officers and club members alike continue this campaign year after year to educate the student body about the immense importance in removing this term from their use and strive to positively impact the students and staff similarly.

“Many people think it’s just a joke, or that they’re not hurting anyone by saying it. But that is not the case. It is an insult to people with special needs, as well as their loved ones,” Activities Coordinator Caitlin Rowley said.

Even students not currently involved in the SPARKS club advocate for the cause and understand the message conveyed by SPARKS.

“I definitely stand for what SPARKS represents and I think it’s a good message to spread awareness for the damage that one word can have on a person,” Junior Adallis Bradford said.

SPARKS strives to prove how harmful this word can be even if students are simply using it for slang. The club as a whole hopes to inform students in a friendly, effective way to ultimately inspire students to spread the knowledge and end the usage.

“I think it not only teaches humility, but it gives a good lesson in empathy,” Outreach Coordinator Christian New said.

After making and handing out over 300 ribbons to students who pledged during last year’s campaign, the banner was certainly full of signatures that left a lasting impact of the SPARKS project and their goal among students.

“Check yourself and think before you speak-everybody slips up, including me. So just keep a watch on your own speech and also your friends. Most of the time, people don’t understand their own hurtful words and they won’t until somebody calls them out,” New said.