If a picture is worth a thousand words, than one video (or two) must be worth even more. This week, I watched two short videos (yes, the links are coming) on the subject of how people perceive people with special needs.
The first was a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) produced by a national joint effort of Special Olympics and Best Buddies to get people to stop using the word “retard” in their everyday language as a synonym for “stupid”. This “Spread the Word to End the R-Word” (http://www.r-word.org) campaign is trying to raise awareness that the current common usage of the R-word is in fact, very offensive to people with intellectual disabilities, and for those who love them.
Their new 30-second PSA is called “Not Acceptable” and it first aired after Glee on Tuesday night, featuring people of different ethnic backgrounds, each of whom expresses that it is not acceptable to call them by what were once common words, but are now recognized as offensive slurs. At the end of the PSA, co-star Jane Lynch joins Glee actress Lauren Potter and together, they ask viewers to stop using the R-word. (This video was pre-screened and endorsed by a number of advocacy organizations including the ADL, GLAAD and the NAACP.)
Watch the PSA here
The second video was shown at The Friendship Circle of Los Angles 8th Annual Evening of Recognition on May 25th, in which I was honored to be honored, along with Mrs. Raizy Brief.
In this video, the letter of choice was “F” as in the Friendship Circle, and their Friends At Home program, which matches teen volunteers with participating children and teens with special needs in their homes. Teenagers receive training and preparation before their first visit. This is just one of a dozen programs offered by Rabbi Michy and Miriam Rav-Noy, along with their dedicated staff and the hundreds of teen volunteers.
Ariel Bernstein, a very articulate high school volunteer, spoke at the dinner, described how she bonded with her teenage “match”, a fun loving Orthodox teenage girl I will call Bracha with whom Danny has attended public school for many years. Ariel spoke that although Bracha can’t speak well, but she is able to use sign language to communicate. At one point, Ariel wrote their names down on a piece of paper. Bracha immediately intertwined her index fingers, making the sign for “Friendship.”
You can watch the Friendship Circle video here:
Please, sign the pledge to stop using the R-word, and even more importantly, open your hearts and minds to potential new friends.