Campaign aims to end use of ‘R’ word

Local teen an advocate for Special Olympics program

Roshan Gosal (middle row

Roshan Gosal (middle row

A Grade 11 student at Yale Secondary in Abbotsford is hoping to spread the word about a Special Olympics campaign.

Roshan Gosal, a Special Olympics coach and a member of the Special Olympics B.C. Youth Activation Council, has become an advocate for the Spread the Word to End the Word program.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the “R” word – retard or retarded – and encourage people to pledge to stop using it.

Gosal, with the help of his fellow Special Olympic volunteers and athletes, is organizing “R” word awareness booths from April 13 to 17 at Yale, W. J. Mouat, MEI and Abbotsford Traditional high schools.

His goal is to collect 1,000 pledges and to expand the campaign next year to include more sites.

“When I initially introduced the campaign to my friends and family, I realized that many of them were simply unaware of the powerful negative impact of the ‘R’ word. Even when used in a joke or said in frustration, it is no different than any other hate word,” Gosal said.

“Abbotsford is a community of diversity, and most languages have an ‘R’ word. We need to do more to build a world of respect and inclusion of all people.”

To join the campaign or for more information, visit r-word.org.