Hometown Heroes Spread the Word to End a Hurtful Word

By Melanie Chapman | mchapman@kolr10.com

Published 04/02 2014 08:35PM

Updated 04/02 2014 09:16PM

PLEASANT HOPE, Mo. -- Pleasant Hope High School students who won a statewide competition after they created a public service announcement aimed at ending a hurtful word.

“I am a person,” says senior Nickie Tannehill. “I am different. Thanks to the people around me, I am excluded. I don't feel like people believe in me.”

“I am a person defined by limits,” says sophomore Haley Tannehill. “I will not be independent and able to choose my future.”

These are words from the public service announcement the Pleasant Hope High School student council created as part of the Special Olympics campaign to spread the word to end the word retarded.

“I thought it was nice because there is a lot of people in this world that use the R word and I think that we could change that because it would make a big difference in the school,” says Haley.

“I don't think you should use that word because it might be offensive to a lot of people,” says Nicki. “But you don't know what there disability is.”

The students won a statewide competition for their creativity and hard work. The votes were on Facebook and Twitter, but it wasn't just about winning, it was about the message of acceptance and inclusion.

“There was a lot of heart went into it,” says junior Brandi Persinger. “We had some students that were in it that almost cried at points because parts of it felt true and some of it was true depending on the person.”

The students feel their message not only spread through these hallways, but even outside the school.

“They knew if they wrote it about their peers or themselves that the emotion will come through and by including their faces, it really just clicked,” says Jacob Conklin, a Pleasant Hope special education teacher.

The student council earned a trip to volunteer at the state Special Olympics, a trip they otherwise would not have been able to afford.

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