Venice students spread the word to end the word

Mr. Sparky

VENICE – Venice Indians big and small are kicking the “R”-word to the curb.

“Today we’re spreading kindness to elementary schoolers and kinda teaching them how to be kind,” Venice High School Student Kevin Dubrule said.

“[We’ll] let them know like what it means to be kind to people and respectful to those who come off differently than us, and kind of show them we can all be friends and work together,” Venice Challenger Baseball President Makenna Burns said.

First grader Madison Shockey already knows one way to be kind to her friends.

“When they fall down, I help them up,” Shockey said.

Another way? Signing a pledge to stop using the word ‘retarded.’

“There’s so many other words that can be said; we don’t need to put others down,” Burns said. “The “R”-word is not necessary to be said; it’s just so offensive to those who have any cognitive, physical, any disability.”

Burns and Dubrule were just some of the high school students spreading the message of acceptance.

“Just making a difference at this age, so when they get to our age in high school, they can make changes for those younger than them,” Dubrule said.

So how should you refer to someone with a disability?

Burns says you don’t really need to.

“I just see everyone the same, but if there is a label that needs to be said, you should just say,’They do have a disability and they are a little different,'” Burns said. “I don’t think the “R”-word needs to be used.”

It’s a message the little ones are hearing loud and clear, even wearing shirts that say, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

To learn more about the ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ campaign, visit


Previous articleRarely performed ‘Tiefland’ takes the stage at the Sarasota Opera
Next articleThe search is continues for a new North Port Police Chief
Hallie Peilet
Hallie Peilet is an Indiana University graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism, and a minor in music. She has had experience in several media outlets. Previously, she interned for WCIU-TV in Chicago, learning about production and live reporting. During her senior year at IU, she worked as a reporter and anchor for her campus news station, and as a multimedia journalist for WTIU/WFIU, the PBS/NPR affiliate in Bloomington. She grew up just outside of Chicago in Munster, Indiana, and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, discovering new music, and watching Chicago sports. If you have an idea for a story, e-mail her at