EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 26, 2014

Methuen High School students urge peers to stop using offensive word

METHUEN ­— The Best Buddies club in Methuen High School wants their peers to stop using the word “retarded” as an insult.

“I don’t think people realize how hurtful the word is,” Junior Lauren Arsenault said.

Best Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There are Best Buddies clubs in high schools all over the country.

There is a national campaign for people to stop using words like “retard” or “retarded.”

Many in the intellectual and developmental disabilities world consider “retard” as a slur and often refer to it as the “R word.”

Arsenault and the rest of her fellow club members decided they wanted to make a video about how hurtful the “R word” is.

The video was shown on various televisions throughout the high school.

“I didn’t know how the video was going to turn out at first,” said Arsenault, who is the president of the club, said. “But, it came out great. I am really proud with how it came out.”

Vice President Kelly Lennon said they wanted to make a “big deal” out of the campaign and video.

“We didn’t want them just to read an announcement about not using the word. No one listens to the announcements. We want to make a difference,” the high school senior said.

Lennon said feedback from the video was extremely supportive.

“It was amazing. People I didn’t even know came up to me telling me about the video and how fantastic it was. It circulated around the community quickly. My dad saw it before I even showed him,” she said.

“People were coming up to me saying how sorry they were for using the word,” Lennon added.

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