The Belmont University Best Buddies chapter led by Education Associate Professor Sally Barton-Arwood hosted a convocation and banner signing event on Feb. 29 centered on the theme “Spread the Word to End the Word,” a national initiative to end the use of the “R-word.”
“Members of Belmont’s Best Buddies organization wish to encourage the Belmont campus community to take a stand and raise awareness of the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the words ‘retard’ or ‘retarded.’ These students want to encourage others to think before they speak and learn more about those with intellectual disabilities,” said Barton-Arwood.
During the convocation, Alecia Talbott, a parent of a 3-year-old child with down syndrome reminded students that people are more alike than different from those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Talbott was awarded the Best Buddies Champion of the Year by Best Buddies of Tennessee and spoke from a family perspective on the subject.
Mike Maguire, a Buddy in the Best Buddies Citizens Program and intern at the Best Buddies of Tennessee Office, also spoke about his life and how it makes him feel when he hears the “R-word.” Matt also encouraged the audience to take a pledge to remove the “R-word” from their vocabulary and show their support by signing a pledge banner.
The convo ended with a special beneficiary award, given to Education Professor James Stamper on behalf of the Belmont Best Buddies Chapter.
“Best Buddies recognizes that all people have worth, value, and ability. That aligns with the way I’ve always tried to live my life, and I’ve enjoyed encouraging this worthwhile group whose mission I wholeheartedly support,” Stamper said.
Barton-Arwood said through the financial support of Stamper, the Belmont Best Buddies chapter was able to form two years ago to give Belmont students the opportunity to volunteer their time to develop one-to-one friendships with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.