AMERICAN FORK, Utah -- Wednesday is national “Spread the Word to End the Word” day. The word is the “R” word or "retarded." To many it is very offensive and hurtful, and in American Fork a special group of students have taken it upon themselves to help put an end to it.
"I never would have thought at some point one of my videos would have such an impact on such a great cause and cool message,” said American Fork High School senior Taylor Reece.
Reece is part of the high school’s video production class. As part of an assignment, he teamed up with members of the life skills class to make a public service announcement video discouraging people from using the “R” word. Click here for more information on the national effort to end the use of the word and to sign a pledge to stop using it.
Reece said he never would have come up with the idea if it weren’t for life skills teacher Janell Jensen.
"You would never want your name to be associated with a word like dumb or stupid and that's what's going on, people are using the "R" word in association with those other words," Jensen said.
Reece said the experience completely changed his outlook on the vocabulary he and his friends use.
"I've said the word all growing up, it was just another word; but now I understand like how it is hurtful," Reece said.
Reece said in order to make an inspirational video that makes a difference, why not work with those who are affected the most?
“It makes me feel uncomfortable; it doesn't mean I'm stupid, which I'm not," said Marlow Leftwich of the life skills class.
"It's a mean word," said Jackson Yerks, also of the life skills class.
Twelve life skills students participated in the video.
"They worked with their parents on practicing lines, and they came ready to go," Jensen said.
Last week, the video was submitted along with hundreds of others from students across the state to the annual Broadcast Choice Awards at BYU. It went on to win the final and most prestigious award of the night, The Directors Award.
"It’s the video that stood out among all the videos, not so much for quality or judged on video production standards, but what video pushed the boundaries as far as how meaningful it is," said Zac Durrant, who is a video production teacher at American Fork High School.
Reece said he may have received the trophy, but it’s the life skills students that are the real champions.
"Not a chance I could have done this without these guys, there would be no video without them, I was just the guy behind the camera,” Reece said.
The student video has even gained national attention. It is currently being played on the Special Olympics website. See below for the full video.