BRONX, NEW YORK, April 23, 2018 – Unique People Services celebrated Autism Awareness Month with two community activities on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at Bronx Borough Hall in the Rotunda.
The event kicked off with a Spread the Word to End the Word™ press conference. Speakers included Yvette Brissett-Andre, Executive Director of Unique People Services, Paula Richter, Director of Health and Human Services for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and Joanne F. Siegel, LCSW, President of the Bronx Developmental Disablists Council. Sonji Phillips, UPS Director of DD Services introduced The Bowden’s, a married couple with developmental disabilities and Cheryl McDonald, mother of a UPS participant. Also, in attendance was Dioris Valerio, Special Assistant of Community Relations on behalf of the New York State Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie and the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).
Speakers spoke to the importance of removing the R-Word from vocabulary and mainstream media. The Spread the Word to End the Word™ campaign seeks to make a stand against the derogatory “R-word,” otherwise known as “retard,” that has found a place in common language. While the use of this word can be casual, is hurtful to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The event had close to 100 attendees and vendors. Attendees also received information and resources from various Bronx based and citywide organizations and referral services.
Ms. Paula Richter, Director of Health and Human Services, for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. presented a proclamation declaring the day the boroughs celebration to Spread the Word to End the Word. “This is an important event that allows us to amplify inclusion and the importance of ridding hate language from common use” stated Ms. Richter, “We are happy to support UPS’ efforts. “People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have had to overcome the stereotypes in society for too long. This event was opportunity to educate the community about autism resources and the need to remove the stigma associated with being different. It is our hope that this event will enable us to change the way people view individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” stated Yvette Brissett-Andre, Executive Director, Unique People Services “We are especially grateful to The NYC Council and the Office of the Bronx Borough President for their ongoing support of unique individuals.”
The event ended with the attendees reciting the important pledge. Yvette Brissett-Andre, Executive Director, and Unique People Services asked the crowd to join in and say, “I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”