HATTIESBURG, Miss. - AmeriCorps members, members from the Hub City Special Olympics, and others were at the University of Southern Miss Wednesday to encourage students to sign a petition, pledging to stop using the "R" word.
AmeriCorps ambassador, Jaharah Frye said, "The word retarded or retard is very offensive. No one wants to be called retarded whether you're smart or you may lack in that area. I feel that because it's offensive to people with disabilities and without disabilities, why do we use it? A lot of people use it in songs and stuff, but to say someone is retarded is very derogatory and bad for that person."
The students who signed their names pledging to stop the use of the "R" word received a sticker, and are hoping to be the ones who symbolize change.
Student, Jonathan Martin said, "I decided to pledge today because I have family members who are special ed, and I would not like them to be called retarded, and I would not like anyone else to be called retarded."
Student, Annie Johnson said, "I think it's a really, really good idea. It has such a good meaning and I think there needs to be more things like that. And, it's just a good cause, like how could you not sign it?"
Student, Raeven Wiggins said, "One word should not describe a person, because everybody is created equally. So, I figured that I would write my name down to say what I believe in. If one person does something, it'll make a chain effect to where other people sign this petition and not use the word anymore."
AmeriCorps program specialist, Sylvester Crosby said if you missed out on signing your name to pledge, he hopes you would pledge anyway to stop using the "R" word, and to help bring out change.