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Schools take part in 'Spread the Word — Respect'

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Special Olympics Delaware will unite with students in schools at all levels across the state March 4 in a global movement of mutual respect and human dignity called “Spread the Word — Respect.”

Through the grassroots work of Special Olympics Programs, youth leaders and self-advocates, the Spread the Word Campaign has grown in the past 11 years from an initiative in a few dozen schools to one of the most widely used tools for Special Olympics school engagement, currently engaging more than 7,000 Unified Champion Schools in the U.S. The campaign has now shifted from a singular focus on the R-word — retarded — to one focused on broader issues of social respect and inclusion, especially given that in some settings the most urgent action needed for social respect and inclusion is to end the “R-word,” but in others it may be something else.

“The day is an opportunity for students in schools to rally behind the premise that respecting and including individuals of all abilities and backgrounds should remain at the forefront of every action and decision they make on a daily basis,” said Jon Buzby, Special Olympics Delaware director of Unified Champion Schools. “Fortunately, nowadays the majority of students already respect all of their peers, but the activities on this one day just reinforces for everyone the importance of treating everyone with respect and the inclusion of all members in school activities and in the local communities.”

On March 4, youth in all 50 states will coordinate simultaneous pledge drives, campaigns, and educational activities through the campaign.

In Delaware, more than 170 preschool, elementary, middle and high schools, along with the University of Delaware and the Delaware Technical Community College Owens and Terry campuses, will participate in the campaign through activities promoting respect and inclusion, which might include providing general information about the campaign in morning announcements; conducting assemblies focused on respect and inclusion; leading week-long fun, interactive activities to promote respect and inclusion; signing a pledge banner at their school to promote respect and inclusion; wearing this year’s official Spread the Word shirt, with a record more than 15,000 sold; and raising awareness about the Special Olympics Delaware program.

For a list of schools and activities, email jbuzby@udel.edu or visit sode.org or plungede.org.