BHS junior launches campaign to stop the R-word

Kira Suerth, Staff Writer

Maiya Hillsinger first came up with the idea for her campaign when she was visiting Sharptop, a camp through the Young Life organization.

The Bearden junior spent a lot of time with her good friend Alex and saw his interactions with his friends. She realized that she wanted to do something about the use of the R-word here at Bearden to help further the social understanding of special needs students, so she is leading an initiative to stop the R-word.

“Seeing the buddies that hang out with him [Alex] made me realize that I really wanted to do something with special education kids,” Hillsinger said.

Hillsinger planned and designed T-shirts six months ago in preparation for the campaign, but went through several different processes in order to get the shirts ready to sell and to obtain permissions to advertise.

March 4 is the annual awareness day to “spread the word to end the word”. Hillsinger wanted to sell the shirts beforehand so everyone could help support the cause and wear them then.

Hillsinger wants to do more than sell T-shirts next year. She mentioned advancing the campaign by potentially holding talks after school about kids with special needs to further educate BHS students.

Peer tutoring is a class here at Bearden where other students help tutor special needs peers. The students help tutor their peers in areas ranging from general academic topics like math and English to other topics that will help them understand tasks in daily life.

Sometimes her peer accompanies her to sell shirts.

“The word is used so frequently that the sensitivity towards the word is gone,” special education teacher Ms. Andrea Reynolds said.

Ms. Reynolds went on to say that the campaign seems to be working and hopes it will continue to spread.

Hillsinger along with the peer tutoring classes hope to make a difference at Bearden by spreading the awareness surround the R-word.