FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts
Andrew Keating, Director of Communications, 406.657.1104, media@rocky.edu  

Photos: Top (from left to right) RMC Chaplain Kim Woeste, local Special Olympics Athlete Joey Lucara, Emily Schaff, and Miranda Schwarzinger (also a student assistant with the Offices of Community Involvement and Spiritual Life). 

Bottom: Special Olympics Athlete Joey Lucara and LeAnn Dolly-Powell, Vice President Unified Strategy for Special Olympics Montana, visit with Rocky Mountain College Student Sam Wilson and his friend while they take the sincere pledge to stop using the r-word.

RMC’s Respect Rally and National Pledge Day set for March 2respect

BILLINGS, February 17, 2016 – Rocky Mountain College will host a “Respect Rally” on Wednesday, March 2, 2016, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on The Green at RMC’s campus. The Respect Rally will be held in conjunction with National Pledge Day – the pledge to stop derogatorily misusing the word “retard(ed).”

“Last year was the first year that Rocky Mountain College hosted a pledge day,” said Emily Schaff, student assistant for the Office of Community Involvement and the Office of Spiritual Life, “and we got 80 students, faculty, and staff to sincerely take the pledge to stop misusing the R-word, and start thinking about a different R-word: Respect.”

“This year’s event will focus more on the respect aspect,” added Schaff, “ and how to educate people about how and why the misuse of the R-word is negative, hurtful, and offensive.”

signingNational Pledge Day is a movement primarily driven by Special Olympics and The Spread the Word to End the Word organization. According to their website (www.r-word.org), “The R-word is the word ‘retard(ed)’. Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory. Our campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions. Pledge today to use respectful, people-first language.”

Schaff said, “It's our goal this year to try to get 100 students, faculty, and staff to sincerely take the pledge to stop using the R-word.” Those who take the pledge will receive a #RESPECT shirt, which they can also tie-dye. Those who receive shirts, will be asked to wear them on Thursday, March 3, in honor of #ThrowbackThursday, to keep the conversation going about being respectful.

Special Olympics Montana athletes and staff members will be present at the event to help educate and interact with those who are interested about the R-word, or being involved with Special Olympics. A sign-up list will be available if anyone is interested in volunteering at the Special Olympic Area Games, which will be held on Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30, at Billings Senior High School and on Rocky Mountain College's campus. If you would like more information, please contact Emily Schaff at communityinvolvement@rocky.edu.

For more general information on the purpose behind pledges and respect rallies, please visit www.somt.org, www.r-word.org, and/or www.specialolympics.org.

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