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Published March 05, 2013, 05:44 PM

Spreading the Word at Area Schools

A Special Olympics athlete is doing her part to help "Spread The Word To End The Word" at Grand Forks Public Schools this week. It's part of a national campaign that the district has been involved with for nearly five years.

A Special Olympics athlete is doing her part to help "Spread The Word To End The Word" at Grand Forks Public Schools this week. It's part of a national campaign that the district has been involved with for nearly five years.

More than 400 students and faculty filled the Valley Middle School gym to learn about respect. Erin Baumann, speaker: "I'm trying to teach the kids not to use that word because it hurts the people with intellectual disabilities."

Baumann has eight speaking engagements throughout town Tuesday sharing her personal stories. Today is special because her sister gets to introduce her. Kristin O'Connor, Erin's sister: "I think a lot of kids start out maybe not knowing much about the "R" word and by the end of the week have a really good understanding about why it's maybe not the best choice of words."

The national campaign to stop the use of the word retard or retarded has nearly every local school holding events throughout the week to bring about education and awareness.

Tessany Becker, 6th grade teacher: "To really put a face to maybe those who it affects and maybe family members. For example Kristin O'Connor for it being her sister, when she hears something, how that makes her feel."

As Baumann's speech comes to a close she hopes she has made an impact, and is helping to change the way people treat others that may be a little different from themselves.

Kristin: "We're all people, doesn't matter what we have or what we look like or anything, we're people."

Baumann will be speaking to nearly 2,000 people throughout the week. This is the 5th year Valley Middle School has been involved with the national campaign.

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