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Erie County Office for the Disabled to work with local organizations to help 'Spread The Word to End the Word'

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Wed, Mar 1st 2017 09:00 am

Community forums at local coffee shops part of national effort to stop bullying, hurtful language

The Erie County Office for the Disabled will join forces with local human service agencies from around Erie County as part of an annual national effort to "Spread the Word to End the Word." Scheduled to take place today, these free community events will help bring parents, teachers and students together in an effort to raise societal consciousness about the dehumanizing effects of the "r-word" ("retard" or "retarded"), and encourage attendees to sign a pledge to stop using the word.

"It is important that we come together and speak out against cruel and hurtful language as we continue towards the construction of a more inclusive and tolerant community," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said. "There is no place for bullying and absolutely no reason to use destructive labels like the 'r-word.' By pledging to not use hurtful language ourselves, we are teaching the young people of Erie County the importance of eliminating bullying in all its forms, including physical, verbal and cyber bullying.

"Words can hurt, which is why events such as these do help underscore the potential damage that bullying can do both to the victim as well as the perpetrator. I thank the office for the disabled and their many community partners in advance for once again leading the way and spotlighting this important issue."

Open to families, educators, students and other community members from across Erie County, the community forum events will take place Wednesday at the locations and times listed below:

•Daily Planet (1862 Hertel Ave., Buffalo) 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

•Grateful Grinds (3225 Main St., Buffalo) 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

•Uncle Bill's Coffee Shop (533 10th St., Niagara Falls) 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

•Spot Coffee (Delaware and Chippewa, Buffalo) noon to 6 p.m.

The scheduled events include the signing of an "anti-bullying pledge" banner by those who attend, as well as presentations and discussions all related to disability awareness and advocacy. There will also be a drawing for a free piece of jewelry from the "Embrace the Difference" collection made available through Reeds Jenss.

"We look forward to once again spreading the word that people with either an intellectual or developmental disability have unique gifts and talents that should be showcased. It's important to remember the language we use impacts people's attitudes and perceptions, so we will be reminding everyone to please think before you speak," said Frank Cammarata, executive director of the Erie County Office for the Disabled.

In addition to the Erie County Office for the Disabled, other organizations sponsoring events include Self-Advocates of New York State, the University at Buffalo Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention, People Inc., Unique Theatre Co., Golisano Center, Guys Group WNY, Friends of Night People and Reeds Jenss.

For more information n the Erie County Office for the Disabled, visit http://www2.erie.gov/ecod/; and for more on the "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign, visit http://www.r-word.org.

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