Rally to End the ‘R’ Word

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CLEVELAND-- More than 400 students and faculty at St. Mark’s Catholic School pledged not to use a specific word in a derogatory manner: the 'r' word.

Lauren Potter, an actress with Down syndrome from the hit show ‘Glee’ even made a public service announcement about the use of the word.

"It is not acceptable to call me a retard or call yourself or your friend retarded when they do something foolish," Potter said in the PSA.

Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns joined parents, police and clergy to get kids to replace the hurtful word with a kind word.

"'Spread the word to end the word' is a movement to eliminate the derogatory use of the 'r' word, forms of retard or retardation and replace it with the word respect," Principal Karen Cocita said.

"Don't use words that are going to put other people down and don't get pleasure in someone else's pain by teasing them," Thomas said.

"Anyone who uses the derogatory term, we want to educate them. We want them to know it's a very hurtful word," parent Brian Kazy said.

According to school officials, 370 students and 28 staff members took a pledge to “support the elimination of the derogatory use of the 'r' word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”

Each child pledged to donate at least 10 cents when they signed the pledge to the Special Olympics.

"By the time they get older, the foundation of the house is already set. We have to take and help build a good foundation for the kids," Officer Jeffrey Stanczyk with Cleveland Police said.

School officials hope to raise $2,500 for the Special Olympics through more pledges.

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