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Pacific Dugoni students participate in campaign to end the use of the “r-word.”

Take the pledge on March 5 and help put a stop to hurtful language. Pacific Dugoni students in the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry student club along with faculty advisor, Dr. Allen Wong, will be spreading awareness of the pervasive effects of the “r-word” – “retard(ed).” Visit the table in front of Café Cagnone on the second floor of the dental school to take a pledge to stop using the r-word and to treat all people with respect.

Pacific Dugoni students helping to spread the word on March 5
Pacific Dugoni students helping to spread the word on March 5

Words are both a reflection of our attitudes and the building blocks of culture. Changing perceptions can begin by changing the language we use. The “r-word” is exclusive, offensive and derogatory to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities

“Working with patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities has shown me how deeply hurtful the ‘r-word’ can be,” said Michael Suh, DDS class of 2014 and president of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry student club at Pacific Dugoni. “When people carelessly use this word, it makes it seem OK for our generation and the upcoming youth to recite this in our everyday vocabulary. It’s a negative cycle that continues to happen, and people must understand that special needs patients are a part of our community and must be treated with respect.”

“Spread the Word to End the Word” is a campaign led by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and other supporters to raise awareness of the derogatory use of the “r-word” and to encourage people to pledge to stop using the word. The day of awareness is held annually on the first Wednesday of every March. In addition to encouraging people to take the pledge, Spread the Word to End the Word also provides resources to encourage honest and respectful discussion.

The Dugoni School of Dentistry believes that all patients deserve to be treated with dignity. The Special Care Clinic offers dental services to people with special needs and is staffed by faculty who are trained to treat people with developmental and psychosocial considerations.

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