Rep. Heffernan: Spread the Word to End the Word

By Rep. Debra Heffernan

Today marks the sixth annual Spread the Word to End the Word day. This youth-led movement to encourage the use of respectful language to refer to people with disabilities and end the use of the “R” word was started in 2009 by two young people, Timbo Shriver, son of Tim Shriver, and Soren Palumbo at a Special Olympics Global Youth Summit. It has spread throughout the United States and even internationally. This year’s theme is “Be The Change You Want to See in the World” and respect.

Words matter, and that is why I am proud to have sponsored and unanimously passed bills that show that Delaware is a state that shows respect to all people no matter if they have a disability or not. The “People First” bills rewrote the entire Delaware Code to take out disrespectful words and replace them with respectful terms for people with disabilities. The second bill makes sure that all laws and regulations from now on use respectful language. Delaware’s laws no longer use the “R” word and neither should any of us. Join the pledge at

Today, my daughter Charlotte and I participated in a program at the Charles W. Bush Preschool and Hanby Elementary School in the Brandywine School District. My daughter was a preschool student at Bush, an inclusive preschool for students with and without disabilities. Her teachers were so excited to see her 12 years later. I am proud of her and of our state for making these important strides forward. Please do your part to Spread the Word to End the Word.