Students at Guilford High School have joined a push to end the use of a word they believe is a derogatory way to describe people with mental disabilities.
It's part of a national campaign called "End the R-Word."
For students in Guilford, it's their 5th year working to eradicate the word.
"The word we're trying to get rid of is 'retarded,'" said Jaye Carlson, a Guilford parent. "But in the big scheme of things, we would love to see all negative words removed.”
The campaign asks students and staff to sign a pledge every day this week before school and during lunch waves. The pledge states that the students promise not to use any form of the word "retard."
Carlson's 20-year-old son Anders has down syndrome and has heard her share of R-words.
"It hurts," Anders told Eyewitness News.
Five years ago, Guilford High School joined the national campaign.
Carlson helped with a grant to start the pledge, get wristbands and t-shirts to spread the word against the R-word.
"I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the word 'retard[ed]' from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities," it states.
"It means a lot because you see kids saying 'can I buy a T-shirt, can I buy a T-shirt?'" said Francesca McGill, a Guilford student. "And immediately you see them walk away and put that T-shirt on and just really want to spread that awareness of ending the word.”
Students said the wristbands are key.
"If you hear somebody say it, you can just point to the bracelet and say 'spread the word to end the word' and usually people listen and they just stop," said Ben Levy, a Guilford student.
Lawmakers are also participating.
Rep. Sean Scanlon, who represents Guilford and Branford, and Comptroller Kevin Lembo signed it.
Students said since the campaign started, they haven't heard the word that much.
For more information or to sign the pledge, check out r-word.org's website here.
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