"Can you please stop saying that word? it makes me really upset..."
That's what sixth grader Chloe Klopp has said to students when they use the "r" word. Chloe has heard the word to many times. The "r" word, retarded, has been used by kids at school in her presence too often. But now she won't be alone in telling them to stop. She has made some new friends, and they are looking out for her.
"Ever since I've been hanging out with these kids...none of them are different. We're exactly the same as them. And we're trying to stop these bad words to get out there that nobody's different We're all the same," said Cameron Magee, another student.
The campaign is called "Spread the Word to End the Word," and students at Washington Woods will be the ones creating change, by telling their peers that it's not cool to say the "r" word.
"I think it hurts our intellectually disabled students a lot. We want to replace the "r" word retarded with words like respectful," said student Natalie Krueger.
There are about a dozen youth action committee members who lead the movement. They assist and socialize with the intellectually disabled students at the school.
Josh haddad, one of the committee members said, "We are just like their best friend, and we do a lot of stuff with them."
Students signed posters pledging to stop using the "r" word. They have also been watching videos, having class discussions and writing about their experiences. And learning how to stop the word in its tracks.
"The kids are with each other all day long. And they see and hear things sometimes that we don't get to hear. And if they can kind of police each other it will go a long way for the program," said Neal Cronkite, a 5th grade teacher.
And police they will, to protect their new found friends like Chloe and unify their school.
"My mom said... I'm really glad you're doing this. And I'm like... why are you glad? She's just a normal person. She's my friend. And she said... well I know sometimes it's hard for you to make new friends. And I said this friend (Chloe) was really easy to make," said student Kennedy Zimmerle.