Message to 'Retard' Users - You Will Be Found

New Social Campaign uses Twitter Monitor to Change the Conversation about People with Developmental Disabilities

Mar 23, 2011, 12:26 ET from LifeMyWay

CHICAGO, March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- "Retard."  You've certainly heard it.  Chances are you've even used it yourself.  You're not alone.  The word "retard" is used more than 24,000 times daily on Twitter.  For the 200,000 people in Illinois living with developmental disabilities and their families, this is a matter that goes far beyond words.  

That's why LifeMyWay has launched, a public awareness and social media campaign that spurs Illinoisans to focus on creating a community of equality and inclusion for all.  

The Social Challenge encourages people to take action by enabling them to engage Twitter users whose tweets contain the "R-word."  The site is also a forum for people to share their personal stories and connect with one another via Facebook.  Advocates for the The Social Challenge will get out into the community, asking Illinoisans to take the Challenge by vowing to help foster a society rooted in equality.  

"The real disadvantage stems from the stereotypes and prejudices that society forces upon people with developmental disabilities," said Holly Roos, Canton mother of two children with Fragile X syndrome.  "Every human being has strengths and weaknesses, and everyone has the right to be seen for who they are as a person rather than what they cannot do."

Jessica Martin is one young adult who shares her story.  As a young woman balancing school, work, and an active social life, Jessica dares to ask people to give her the same respect she gives to them.

"I want to be seen as a human being, not as just another girl in a wheelchair," said Martin, who has Cerebral Palsy.  "Get to know me – see what I have to offer.  Know that my wheelchair helps me to do what I have to do in my daily life, but it doesn't define who I am as an individual."

TAKE THE CHALLENGE:  "I will challenge myself and challenge others, joining LifeMyWay in creating a community rooted in equality."