Spirit Lake, IA students take a stand against the "R-word" - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Spirit Lake, IA students take a stand against the "R-word"

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SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (KTIV) -

There's an old saying that "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me." The thing is, that's not necessarily true. For many, words can be just as painful as actions.

It's a politically-incorrect word that's no longer used in federal health, education, and labor policy thanks to Rosa's Law. We're talking about the word Retarded, also known as the "R-word," but many said it's still too common in school.

"It just happened yesterday. We had a student that unintentionally just said the word," Spirit Lake Middle School Guidance Counselor Tami Horsman said.

"I hear it quite often. The 'R-word 'is not an okay word to say to anyone, even if they do have special needs cause words do hurt," Spirit Lake 8th Grader Greta Goodlaxson said.

Wednesday was the official "Spread the Word to End the Word Day" and Spirit Lake High School Senior Hailey Ebel was inspired to speak up to other students about stopping the "R-word."

"I always wanted to help people and my best friend is Brandon, and Brandon has autism. And, if anybody was to talk bad about Brandon, it would probably be the end of the world for me," Spirit Lake High School Senior Hailey Ebel said.

And, some students listening to Ebel's talk said they want something to be done.

"We believe that I have ADHD and some people could say that I'm the 'R-word.' I just think that stopping it in general is a great idea," Spirit Lake 8th Grader Lincoln Belken said.

Some said their ultimate goal is to eliminate the word from their students vocabulary.

"We want kids to be educated about what the word means and the fact that it is degrading and it puts people down, and we don't want to have that," Horsman said.

"We don't want the future of kids to be banded to that word because it's not a good word," Goodlaxson said. 

So, students and teachers remind us all to watch our words because they can hurt.

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