February 28, 2016 10:32 pm

Abbotsford teen campaigns to rid the ‘R-Word’ from peers’ vocabularies

WATCH: Roshan Gosal is advocating for Special Olympics athletes with the ‘Spread the Word’ Campaign, aimed at changing the way other teens perceive them.

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An Abbotsford teenager is doing more than his fair share to reduce discrimination in Fraser Valley schools.

Roshan Gosal is a Special Olympics coach and has become a leading member of the “Spread the Word to End the Word” program.

The campaign asks people to pledge to stop using the “r-word” – retard or retarded – and instead use “respectful, people-first language.”

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“Our campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions,” the campaign says.

Gosal got involved with the program last year, and has organized campaigns at ten different schools in Abbotsford and the surrounding area.

“Even at my school, after the campaign I saw friends telling people not to use the word. That’s amazing, because it means the campaign worked, and people were taking it to heart,” he says.

“Nobody has refused the campaign, everyone is quite open-minded, and it’s just great.”

Gosal was inspired to take part in the campaign because of his work with the Special Olympics, as well as his uncle who has Down syndrome.

“The athletes are my friends, some of them my best friends. I have to make time for them, because they are the people I like to hang around,” he said.

“I know my schedule is busy, but I have to find time to do these campaigns that are going to help more than just me.”

Gosal is graduating this year, but he has a plan for it to continue after he moves on to the University of the Fraser Valley.

“There’s going to be a younger volunteer to continue the campaign [at every school], so it just doesn’t end this year,” he says.

http://r-word.org/

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