Spread the Word to End the Word


Written By:  Elizabeth McMahon, MA, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

In February 2009, the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign was created by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies.  This campaign has been influential in using people first language and to show others how hurtful the “r-word” is to those with special needs.  March 6, 2013 is the annual day of awareness and there are special events going on all over the country.  Please check with organizations in your community for more information.  In Memphis, Best Buddies and DSAM will be at the Old Navy at Wolfchase to spread awareness and encourage people to sign the pledge banner.

In October 2010, Rosa’s Law removed the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policies and replaces them with people first language such as “individuals with an intellectual disability.”  This law is a significant milestone to promote people first language and acceptance for all people with intellectual disabilities.  Since then, several states have also updated their policies and have implemented positive, people first language.

Using positive language is important.  The way we talk and the words we choose say a lot about what we think and value.  As a society, we must move forward with our thinking and views of those with special needs. We must pledge to be advocates for the acceptance and equal rights for everyone.  We must work towards creating an environment with positive language, an environment of love and acceptance for everyone.  Take the pledge with me.  Spread the word to end the word in order to show inclusion, respect, unity, dignity, acceptance, friendship and unconditional love.

Help Bring Best Buddies to Memphis

What is Best Buddies?

Best Buddies is an international nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for “one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

There are 8 programs associated with Best Buddies:

1. Best Buddies Middle Schools – This program partners middle schoolers with special needs with a “typically” developing peer for one-to-one friendships and social interactions.

2. Best Buddies High Schools – This program partners teenagers with special needs with a “typically” developing peer for social interactions and one-to-one friendships.

3. Colleges – This college program partners college students with young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

4.  Citizens – This program matches adults with developmental disabilities with individuals in the corporate and civic communities.

5. e-Buddies – This is an e-mail pen pal program for people with disabilities (ages 10 years and up) and peer volunteers across the United States and around the world.

6.  Jobs – This program places those with developmental disabilities into the community through supported employment.  Adults are able to attain and maintain jobs of their own choosing by providing ongoing support and training.

7.  Ambassadors – This program educates and empowers those with developmental disabilities to be leaders, public speakers and self-advocates in their schools, communities and workplace.

8.  Promoters – This program empowers youth to become advocates for people with developmental disabilities and introduces them to the disability rights movement and the importance of the inclusion through local awareness events.

Where is Best Buddies Located?

There is a Best Buddies program in every state and in 50 countries around the world.  To find a location near you, visit Best Buddies. In Tennessee, the state office is in Brentwood, TN.

How Can I Help Bring Best Buddies to Memphis? 

1.  Attend, Volunteer or Sponsor the Champion of the Year Gala and Silent Auction.  On November 9, several candidates are competing to be the “Champion of the Year” by raising the most money for Best Buddies.  There will also be a Silent Auction.  All proceeds will benefit the Memphis chapter of Best Buddies. To purchase tickets, click here.

2. Make a donation to Help Bring Best Buddies to Memphis. All donations are tax deductible.

3. Volunteer!  Help Bring Best Buddies to Memphis would love to have you volunteer at the fundraising events, stuff envelopes or call for sponsors and donations.

4. Spread the Word!  Talk to your child’s school, your local college or office.  Tell them about Best Buddies and how this program will benefit those in the community.

5. Become a Sponsor. If you would like to sponsor a fundraising event, Help Bring Best Buddies to Memphis would love to meet with you!  Contact Kristin Barek or Melissa Todd.


This program will change the lives of children and adults living in Memphis and the Mid-South.  Everyone needs a friend – a buddy – to hang out with, share your dreams with and learn from.  Best Buddies will be a wonderful addition to the Mid-South community.  Please Help Bring Best Buddies to Memphis.


Now It’s Your Turn:  Have you been involved in a Best Buddies program?   Tell us about it.