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Equality and Independence for Illinoisans Living With Developmental Disabilities

  • Synopsis: Published: 2011-07-07 - The Social Challenge is an online initiative that monitors the use of the word retard on Twitter. For further information pertaining to this article contact: TheSocialChallenge.org.

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Liberty and Justice for ALL: The Social Challenge Promotes Equality and Independence for Illinoisans Living With Developmental Disabilities.

In the ramp up to the Fourth of July weekend, Uncle Sam and a small team of advocates took to the streets of downtown Chicago Friday, urging local citizens to consider a group still fighting for basic freedoms and independence: Illinoisans with developmental disabilities.

The scene was part of The Social Challenge's Week-long Independence Day Spectacular, a crusade in conjunction with the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities to change perceptions and open minds about people with developmental disabilities. Uncle Sam and company gathered signatures from hundreds of Chicagoans who affirmed that people with developmental disabilities deserve "certain unalienable rights... among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

The Social Challenge is an online initiative that monitors the use of the word "retard" on Twitter.

Visitors to the site can watch a live stream of tweets containing the 'R' word and send messages that encourage the tweeters to reconsider their choice of words in the future. The site is also a forum for people to share their personal stories and connect with one another via Facebook.

"There's no bigger celebration of freedom in our country than the Fourth of July, and yet hundreds of thousands of people with developmental disabilities in Illinois alone still don't have the independence and equality they deserve," said Holly Roos, Canton mother of two children with Fragile-X syndrome. "The Social Challenge is working tirelessly to help ensure that people with developmental disabilities have a reason to celebrate along with everybody else."

In the four months since the launch of The Social Challenge, registrants of the site have taken action against more than 20,000 tweets containing the 'R' word. And their efforts haven't gone unheeded. Hundreds of heartfelt apologies have poured in from Twitter users worldwide, each of them pledging to reconsider their use of the 'R' word in the future.

"What a great idea! I have to admit, I fall into using this word every once in a while without thinking about who it affects and hurts," writes one visitor to the site. "Thanks to The Social Challenge for helping me to be more aware of my words and the power they carry."

TheSocialChallenge.org is a project that believes all people deserve the same rights and freedoms, that all individuals with developmental disabilities can be best served in the community with the right supports and services, and that advocacy can change lives. To learn more, visit www.thesocialchallenge.org today.

TAKE THE CHALLENGE: "I will challenge myself and challenge others, joining LifeMyWay in creating a community rooted in equality."

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