Special Olympics kicks off events for awareness initiative

WASHINGTON: Special Olympics helped organize more than 700 youth-focused events around the country on March 31 as part its campaign to stop the use of the word "retard."

WASHINGTON: Special Olympics helped organize more than 700 youth-focused events around the country on March 31 as part its campaign to stop the use of the word “retard.” The organization is working to get people to sign a pledge to stop using the word as part of its “Spread the Word to End the Word' campaign.”

In August it had launched the Web site www.r-word.org, in response to use of the word in Tropic Thunder, said Kirsten Seckler, director of global brand marketing and awareness for the organization, which is working on the effort internally. But the youth-focused campaign came about more recently when students ages 12 to 20, suggested greater involvement during its Global Youth Activation Summit, Seckler said.

The organization used social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and a social network on the Special Olympics Web site, to get the word about the events that took place at various venues across the country, including colleges, in order to raise awareness of the issue. Since then pledges have grown.

Moving forward, the campaign will work to target parents and key influencers in the media and entertainment industry, Seckler said. It is also accompanied by print and radio advertising.

She noted that President Barack Obama's recent comments to Jay Leno in which he equated his bowling score to one belonging in the Special Olympics “sparked more dialog” and “brought more relevancy” to the March 31 events.

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