by David Johnston
People First is an organization that was formed because some people in our communities felt they were not considered as people first. They felt that they were talked about, talked to, thought about, and treated according the disabilities that others labeled them with. This fall (after the teacher’s strike) members of BC People First (BCPF) hope to present to grade 7 and 8 students across the province. We want to teach kids why the R-word hurts.
When people ask why they should not say the R-word, I say it hurts. It is wrong. I get mad. But most people need to know more than that.
When someone uses the R-word they mean ‘stupid’. But people who are labeled with a developmental disability are not stupid. There are some things we are not so good at but there are other things we are really good at.
I know that some people who are not labeled with a disability would never be able to present in front of 200 people. Well, I can. My girlfriend is a great a courtesy clerk at our local supermarket. She keeps the shelves filled with stock and packs the customer’s bags wonderfully. Sherry Shortman, who is on the BCPF Board, knows the by-laws better than anyone, even our paid coordinator.
My friend Sandra is a wonderful volunteer. She is really organized and is wonderful at finding what people want in the thrift store she volunteers at. Barb Goode is famous advocate. She has written a book and been on TV. Jo-Anne Gauthier is the president of the BCPF. She is great at chairing our Board meetings, even with her quiet voice.
To us, the R-word means ‘stupid’. So we feel like people are saying developmentally disabled means ‘stupid’. Which is not true.
We are looking forward to talking to youth in high schools about the R-word. We think grade 7 and 8 will be a good age to present to because they are old enough to understand but young enough to change this bad habit.