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Students campaign to end hurtful language

By Rebecca Bartlett [7]

BELLEVILLE – Two Loyalist College Television and New Media [8] students are teaming up to fight the use of the word “retard.”

Sarah Doucette and Cheryl Griffiths have started putting up posters around the college promoting The “r” Word Campaign [9].

The campaign was started in the U.S. in 2007 to create awareness about the negative impact of using “retard” and “retarded” to describe people who are mentally challenged.

Griffiths says that in volunteering with special-needs students in her high school, she became more aware of how often people use the words inappropriately and hurtfully:

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cheryl-1.mp3 [10]


“I would prefer not to hear a word that I don’t like being used in public hallways and classrooms,” Griffith said about why she chose to bring The “r” Word Campaign to Loyalist.

Doucette added, “I hear it often in the halls and in class. It’s everywhere. It’s a public place, so people use it often. And this is a place where I am many hours of the day.

“If I can keep it from being spoken in the school, then I can have a better time here at Loyalist.”

Both women say they are strongly motivated to keep the words out of people’s mouths, but for Doucette it’s much more personal:

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/sarah-1.mp3 [11]


Griffiths and Doucette compared it how people use the word “gay” in a derogatory sense. In both cases, ordinary words used to describe something were twisted to have negative meanings.

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/sarah-2.mp3 [12]


The ultimate goal for Doucette and Griffiths is to make people aware of how what they say may affect those around them. Words can have a big impact, Griffiths said.

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cheryl-2.mp3 [13]


“It’s just not a word that should be used in 2015,” says Doucette.