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“I Pledge” Picture Campaign to Support Polar Plunge and the R-Word Campaign

Nov 01, 2012 • R-Word Campaign

Take the PledgeYoncalla High School student Taryn Lowes organized a picture campaign to stop the use of the R-word. When choosing her Senior Project, Lowes wanted it to be something she was passionate about that would make a difference in her community.

In 2009 she learned about the Polar Plunge at a leadership conference in Seaside. In 2010 she started a plunge team at her school, organized an assembly, and held a “pledge week” to have students sign the R-word pledge at lunch and collect donations. She has continued these events for the last few years and will take those events even farther this year. She plans to speak at surrounding schools and possibly in the Eugene area.

When asked what made her choose this project Lowes replied, “This project is more than just jumping into freezing water. It is supporting something I believe in, helping Special Olympics athletes, and helping to eliminate one of the many forms of bullying that students deal with on a daily basis.”

She had participated in Polar Plunge for the past two years and had a love for photography. She decided to combine her two passions and create a campaign that would reach out to people. She knew that this would be a huge task and enlisted the help of Chelsea Scott.

Lowes realizes multimedia is a huge part of everyone’s lives and that by incorporating it, she would be able to reach more people with her project. She turned her previous Polar Plunge team Facebook page into a place to promote her campaign.

The campaign is a simple four step process…

1.      Choose to take the pledge not to use the R-word (retarded)

2.      Write “I Pledge” on your hand

3.      Take a picture of your hand

4.      Send the picture to or upload it to The Believers Facebook page 

Along with raising awareness about the R-word, she hopes to raise money for her Polar Plunge team. She has a goal to gather 1,000 pledges. If she can get every person who pledges to donate $1, she will reach her fundraising goal of $1,000.

If anyone would like to donate or participate in the campaign, you can send an Email to or visit the Facebook page


The 2012 Youth Rally at Hillsboro High School

May 02, 2012 • R-Word Campaign

On Saturday, April 21st over 100 youth with and without intellectual disabilities from 10 different schools attended a student-led Youth Rally at Hillsboro High School to raise awareness about inclusion and to promote the R-Word Campaign.

The rally was organized and produced by 16 year-old Hillsboro High School student Jori Halpern as part of her senior project, along with the help of Special Olympics Oregon staff. Last year Halpern attended the Youth Rally at Grant High School that Special Olympics Oregon hosted and was so inspired by the event that she decided to organize one at her own school. By hosting the rally, Halpern’s goal was to break down barriers between students with and without disabilities in order to create a more accepting society.

During the first half of the rally students had the opportunity to participate in various activity booths that promoted inclusion, acceptance, respect and sports. Some the activities included creating your own R-Word shirt, signing the R-Word pledge, making friendship bracelets, and a basketball shoot-out that was hosted by Hillsboro Unified basketball youth participants.

The second portion of the event brought everyone together for an assembly styled rally. Since the weather was almost 75 degrees, they decided to have it at their outdoor commons area instead of in the gym. Guest speakers took the stage to share their stories and entertain the crowd. Twin brothers Joseph and Jonathan Jackson told their story about one of them being born with down syndrome and the other without and their involvement in participating in Special Olympics basketball together. Next, Forest Grove High School students Chris Sullivan and Skylar Sharp shared their experience about travelling to the 2012 Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece and representing Project UNIFY at the Global Youth Activation Summit. A Hillsboro Unified partner and athlete then spoke about their involvement in Unified sports and the impact that it’s had in their lives. The rally ended with an exciting performance by local musical artist Cam Lasley, who performed four songs and got the crowd up on their feet and dancing!

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