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Update from the Field

Each month we will be sharing news from our various Best Buddies State Offices. This will be a great way for our participants to learn about what is happening with Best Buddies throughout the United States. We hope that you enjoy this new feature of the e-Beat!

This update comes from:

Best Buddies Arizona

By Maggie Speer

On March 26, 2010 Best Buddies Arizona Buddy Ambassador, Charles Calhoun, visited North High School for the kick off assembly for a large "Spread the Word to End the Word" (STWETW) campaign. North High School in central Phoenix, AZ has varied activities planned for the STWETW which will be an easy success after the effective assembly. Charles shared his personal experience with the hurtful word highlighted in the STWETW campaign- retarded. He was open and shared many very personal stories about being called a "retard" and the consequences in his life. He spoke honestly about his troubled youth and the desire he felt to be included and understood by his peers.

Charles certainly opened the eyes of the 700 students in attendance with his honesty about how hurtful it is to him and his peers with intellectual disabilities.

Here is a powerful quote from the speech he gave "I remember the hurtful names people would call me, like retarded. When they called me retarded they meant that I was stupid, worthless and cannot do anything right. They would mock, tease and ridicule me. Kids and even some adults would say things, point at me and laugh. But look at me now! I have a job, I graduated from high school, I have spoken in front of the Governor- Jan Brewer, I traveled to Washington D.C. to speak to Congress, and I am a Public Speaker and Buddy Ambassador. I am a drummer, a song writer, and an awesome friend. Do I seem worthless to you?" The auditorium of students all agreed, with riotous applauses that Charles is not worthless, nor are our friends with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Charles also spoke about the importance of being involved in programs like Best Buddies, so everyone has a chance to have a friend and a chance to have fun! To conclude, Charles asked all students in the audience to pledge to end the hurtful use of the "r-word."

"I pledge and support the elimination of the offensive use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities."

The North High School Best Buddies chapter hopes to collect at least 500 additional pledges next Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 as they march through campus collecting signatures on a custom made banner.

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