Do you have a special person in your life? I'm sure we all have one person we would refer to as that "special" person. The one we lean on, expect to alway be there for us no matter what. However you'll be surprised to learn I'm actually referring to something completely different. I'm referring to a person with special needs. That special need may be just a mild physical disability or it may be a major learning disability or a combination, or somewhere inbetween.
For many years those with learning disabilities were referred to as "retarded" and how that word gets my ire up! When I hear that word used in any form or context I turn red with anger and it takes every ounce of control to not blow up at the person using it. Most of the time I know it's complete and utter ignorance of that person when they use that word. Special Olympics has started the "R" campaign to eliminate the use of the word retard. It's a word that does nothing but hurt those that it's used against. It's a bullying word!
I've been a volunteer for almost 10 years now with these wonderful people. They are the most compassionate humans I have ever been associated with and let me tell you this, we could learn a lot from them about how to treat others! There are no people anywhere else with the ability to shrug off bullying, lend a helping hand when no one else is there to do so, struggle to the end to win even if it looks like there is no way to win and do all of this with a smile not only on their face but in their eyes.
Have you ever thought of becoming a volunteer? I hear many times the words "I don't have time" or "I don't have the money" or even "I'm scared to try". First off, get rid of the word don't out of your vocabulary! Anyone who uses the word don't is doing so only because they really "don't" want to. If you truly want to become a volunteer you will FIND the time. As for money, it doesn't take any money to become a volunteer. How does that work you ask? Volunteering takes time, not money. While you may need rides to get to volunteer opportunities, the rides will be furnished for you if you ask. And don't be scared. There is absolutely nothing to be scared of! Special needs persons are the most loving people in the world. Even if you make a mistake when you are volunteering either you'll be the only one who knows you made the mistake or if they do know it they will instantly forgive you and move on.
In the meantime, I'm going to go back to the Eliminate the "R" word campaign. I'm asking each and every one of you to please NOT use the "R" word in any context or form! Lets rid the world of that awful word. Teach our children it's not a nice word to use and that yes, it is bullying when they use it.
If you would like more information on volunteering or on the "R" word campaign you can go to www.specialolympics.org. It's a wonderful organization! And I'm going to leave you with our Special Olympic Athlete's creed..........
"Please help me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt"