March is Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in South Dakota. Millions of people around the world and thousands of people across our state will participate in the seventh annual “Spread the Word to End the Word” activities on March 4, 2015. The goal of this Special Olympics initiative is to educate the public regarding the casual use of the hurtful and degrading word ‘retarded.’ We will encourage adults, teens and children alike to take the pledge to stop using the word ‘retarded’ and to help promote the new R-word: RESPECT.
Spread the Word to End the Word is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and their supporters to inspire respect and acceptance through raising the consciousness of society about the R-word and how hurtful words and disrespect can be toward people with intellectual disabilities.
Each year during March, several South Dakota advocacy groups come together to shine a light on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month – a time to focus on peoples’ abilities and similarities rather than differences. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed a proclamation declaring March as Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in South Dakota. In this spirit, many new opportunities are emerging throughout the state, including community-based employment options and residential opportunities that more fully integrate people with disabilities.
The 2015 theme reflects this spirit – “Can Do! Like You.” The S.D. Council on Developmental Disabilities along with the Center for Disabilities at Sanford School of Medicine at USD and S.D. Advocacy Services encourage everyone to welcome people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into their communities.