Letters to the editor

Drop the ‘R’ word I want to thank state Rep. Cary Pigman for co-sponsoring House Bill 1119. HB 1119 and Senate Bill 142 seek to replace all references of “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in the Florida State Statutes. Mental retardation was once considered a valid medical term; however, the terminology used by medical professionals has evolved. Both the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the American Psychiatric Association have officially replaced the diagnosis with “intellectual disability.” The R-word has simply become a hurtful slang that promotes negative stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities. Many of us use the R-word without meaning to be cruel but the reality is, hearing the R-word used is quite hurtful if you happen to be a person with an intellectual disability.
Ralph Meyers, a man with an intellectual disability, recently shared his story in a letter to the editor. I have personally known Ralph for many years and can honestly state he has accomplished as much and donated more time to his community than most people I know. Changing attitudes about the R-word will not be easy. But the proposals in our state government are a good first step. Please contact your state representative and senator to encourage them to support the Intellectual Disabilities Bill and end the R-word in Florida. Start at home, with ourselves and our own children to eliminate this hurtful term as everyone has the right to be treated with respect. For more information, go to www.NoRword.org. Victor Divietro Ridge Area Arc Board Chair Swamp Hammock We received a huge disappointment last night when those particular commissioners chose to vote for the establishment of the Swamp Hammock project. They chose not to protect those old-time generations of Sebring families, but voted in favor of a gentleman from out of our country seeking to bring into the quiet of Highlands County an event which will undoubtedly be a “party time” entertainment. Their lawyer said “no alcohol will be served,” yet she failed to say they would not allow alcohol to be brought in with the 1,000 or more coolers. We know personally the dangers alcohol can bring, having one child out of eight become addicted. Thank God he caused no problems to anyone but himself. It destroyed an extremely talented, smart, gifted boy and took him away from us at the age of 47. We will always miss him. Is it clear to see why we object personally to such an activity coming to our town? Those Christian folks that think this will be so good for our children – are you right out of your minds? The problems encountered at race week here is an example of what we will have continually all year, every year. Do you want your children exposed to a good many drunks, improper behavior and the likes? The narrow roads with no shoulders should be enough to scare you to death in case of an accident or illness. Oh, but new roads, funded by the taxpayers, will remedy that – no one mentioned that possibility. Another longtime citizen reminded the commissioners that we support Sebring and have all of our lives by buying our groceries, gas, dry goods, and on and on. Those Swamp Hammock attendees will do little of that in comparison. Five hours of listening to the pros and cons convinced us even further what problems will be brought on to us by a stranger coming to town for his financial benefit, only to damage our way of life. We need to pray long and hard that our commissioners will look out of us. Isn’t that what we expected when we voted them into office? Sally Noel Sebring