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March is Disability Awareness Month - Special Author
Posted On: March 16, 2016

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.”- The Christian Recorder, 1862
Many of us have heard the above quote from the pages of nursery books and the mouths of our wise grandmothers. However, there are some words that do harm, emotionally and mentally, and are used to label those who are different.
With the help of the declaration by President Ronald Regan that March shall be named “Developmental Disability Awareness” Month in 1987, the American Disability Awareness Act passed in 1988, as well as the newly passed Rosa’s Law in 2010, people with intellectual disabilities are being recognized beyond their limitations. 
At St. Coletta of Wisconsin, those with developmental and physical disabilities are shown to excel and succeed in spite of labels with help of advocacy efforts through the Special Olympics and their Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.
The Special Olympics were founded by Eunice Kennedy-Shriver, whose family has advocated the wellbeing and treatment of those with disabilities. The first event; the International Special Olympic Games; was held in Chicago, 1968.
Since the 2009 Special Olympic World Winter Games, the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign has encouraged the elimination of the word "retarded” or the “R-Word” from everyday speech. Thousands have pledged to the campaign, both those with and without developmental disabilities, and hold an annual awareness day on the first Wednesday of March.
Many of the people served at St. Coletta of Wisconsin are participants in Special Olympic events such as basketball, swimming, bocce-ball, track and field, and bowling. This year, St. Coletta’s Special Olympics basketball team has placed first at regionals and sectionals so they will head to the state tournament later next month.
For the last three years, St. Coletta of Wisconsin has pledged itself to the campaign. Every March, staff, clients, and friends sign a banner that is hung in the reception hall in honor of their ongoing efforts to treat individuals with disabilities with compassion, dignity and respect.  If you are interested making your pledge to discontinue the use of the “R-Word” please visit www.r-word.org.
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Matt Martino is a client of St. Coletta and currently holds an internship in their marketing department. He enjoys photography, history and writing for online blogs. He also holds a part time job at a local convenience store. Matt participates in St. Coletta’s Genesis Project, a transition program for young adults with developmental disabilities who are educated on life skills to allow them to live independently and seek gainful community employment. For more information on the Genesis program, please contact Geralyn Dorn at #920-674-8453.