Kelley - Spread the WordIn Girl Scouts, there are three different awards you can receive, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. As a member of Girl Scouting, I have received all three awards. The one I feel most proud of is my Gold Award because what I did to earn that award made a real difference to my brother and to my community.

I received that award because I organized a “Spread the Word to End the Word” day at my high school, Hopkins Academy. The day involved an assembly where I had guest speakers and a banner people could sign that symbolized a pledge not to use the “R word.”

The day will always be remembered at Hopkins Academy as the day I helped my brother. The campaign Spread the Word to End the Word, sponsored by the Special Olympics, helps to spread awareness and put an end to the use of the derogatory word “retarded” or “retard.”

Kelley with her brother, Patrick

Kelley with her brother, Patrick

Patrick, my older brother (22) who is nonverbal and has Fragile X, inspired me to stride towards my goal and receive my Gold Award. I wanted to do it for him, not for myself, so he could live in a judgemental-free environment. I was so nervous standing up in front of 350 students and speaking out about a word that has been a threat to my brother and others who have intellectual disabilities.

I knew that if someone was going to protect my brother, that someone was going to be me. I made others understand that using the “R word” is wrong. My brother inspired me to take on the project and to plan the assembly. Because of him, I made a difference that will live on forever at Hopkins Academy.

I still remember that day of the assembly like it was yesterday. I remember looking out into a sea of faces filled with tears, happiness, and love. After the assembly, each person came up to congratulate me and support me in something I truly believe in.

Whenever I go back to Hopkins and see that banner hanging up after all those years, I think back to the day of the assembly and how I took one step to make life easier for my brother and many others living with a disability.

Kelley DevineKelley Devine
is a self-advocate and shares a true passion for spreading awareness and understanding of Fragile X. She is currently the communications intern at the NFXF.