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Ending The 'R' Word

January 4, 2012, 6:39 AM by Kellee Azar

Ending The 'R' Word
SIOUX FALLS, SD - An average a person uses anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 words in a day. And sometimes those words can be offensive without even realizing it.

One company in KELOLAND is helping to spread the message to end one word in particular.

Citibank has partnered with the Special Olympics South Dakota to ban the use of the 'R' word, which may be used as a synonym for dumb or stupid but can be extremely offensive to others.

The 'R' word is used in the medical field as a term for someone with intellectual disabilities. More often than not, it's used as a slang term, which is when it becomes offensive.

"I thought the whole campaign, bringing it to Citi was a great idea. I had seen the public service announcements they had on TV, also seen some on You Tube and I thought it was a cool way to get the word out to a lot of people," Citibank employee Ann VerHey said.

The use of the 'R' word is something very common that even Verhey thinks she has been guilty of, but may not have realized it.

"Yeah, you know when I was younger I was probably guilty of using it, just not even thinking that it would offend someone. When I got older I realized that it's not really an appropriate word to use," VerHey said.

The 'R' word is one of those words that people may not realize is offensive because of how often it is used; on Facebook alone, it's used more than 2,000 times a day.

"We really want to promote respect in the work place and respect in our communities and our daily lives. I think using the word is actually disrespectful. So our whole concept here is to show respect to all diversities of all situations and all kinds," Citibank Human Resources Generalist and Special Olympics Volunteer Mike Hilbrands said.

For Citibank, this campaign has shed a light on something not a lot of people think twice about.

"I think a lot of people don't realize how dehumanizing it could be. I think that part has been eye opening for them, not even realizing what the word they say can create," Hilbrands said.

Wednesday, Citibank employees will present the Special Olympics South Dakota with a signed banner to show they are vowing not to use the 'R' word.

For more information on the campaign visit the"Spread the word, to end the word" website.

© 2012 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.

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