Farmington gathering to support people with cognitive disabilities

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FARMINGTON — Life Enrichment Advancing People will host a gathering Wednesday to continue the effort to end the use of the word “retard.”

March 3 in the second annual Spread the Word to End the Word, and the community is welcome to the gathering from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday upstairs at the Granary on Front Street, said Rick Dorian, executive director of LEAP.

In a national effort to educate the public about the hurtful and dehumanizing effects of the word “retard” or “retarded,” supporters of people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities are encouraging people to stop using the word and pledge their support at www.r-word.org. The goal is 100,000 pledges.

During the gathering Wednesday, information will be shared on the progress Maine has made, including many updated policies that reflect a more respectful and person-centered language about people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Services are community based with no large institutions, he said.

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“People with disabilities, their families, guardians and friends have many opportunities to comment and impact public policy and to have a voice with the Department of Health and Human Services. We have seen this with the current budget crisis, self-advocates and family members have much more impact and influence with public policy makers. Their voices do make a real difference here,” Dorian said.

Speakers and guests invited include those from the University of Maine at Farmington, the Maine Attorney General’s Office and advocates from Speaking Up For Us, he said.

Spread the Word to End the Word was created by supporters in an effort with Special Olympics and Best Buddies International to challenge people to stop and think before they speak, and encourage acceptance and respect for people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, Dorian said. While LEAP has previously participated in other educational efforts, they really wanted to support this effort and bring some attention to this area, he added.

“There’s a great deal of support and understanding here and we wanted to get behind a gathering that could help to recognize a number of improvements that have taken place,” he said.

More information about the day is available at LEAP’s Central Office at 313 Farmington Falls Road from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Kits are available for local community groups and schools.

For more local information, contact Dorian at 778-3443 or e-mail rick@leapcommunity.org

abryant@sunjournal.com

 

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