BAY SHORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A sixth grader from Long Island wants to be part of a national cause.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, she the Bay Shore middle schooler is hopes the first Wednesday of every March will become a day to lose one word and gain another.
Emmariah Wyss, 12, is on a campaign of caring and kindness – inspired by her 7-year-old disabled brother, Jackson.
“My brother has special needs. He has cerebral palsy,” Emma said, “and lots of time in my school, and from my teachers, I heard people using the ‘R’ word and it is just that he really is retarded. And it’s not fair that they talk about like he’s not equal to them, because everyone is equal.”
The campaign to end the ‘R’ word – “retard” or “retarded” – has taken hold in Emma’s Brightwaters community, where classmates have signed banners and posters pledging to promote respect.
Emma wrote a script, and her family helped post her video on YouTube.
“Stop yourself and others from using the ‘R’ word,” she said in the video. “Even famous people like LeBron James used the ‘R’ word and realized they were wrong and apologized.”
Teachers expressed pride in Emma’s efforts.
“She came with her idea to student council of spreading the message of ending the ‘R’ word, and she’s done a tremendous job in getting other kids to believe in that message,” said Emma’s student council teacher, Robert Dooley.
Emma is asking people to sign a “giant banner” to show their commitment to banishing the ‘R’ word. She is pleased to have the support of teachers and other students.
“It means a lot, because they care enough to get everyone they can educated and involved with this,” she said.
As for her goals and dreams when she grows up, Emma said, “I want to give back to the world and help stop the use of the ‘R’ word and other words that are hurtful.”
Emma wants to replace the ‘R’ word with another ‘R’ – “respect.” She wants people to talk, think and write with respect.
Several nearby districts are also pledging to promote respect.