How Changing Your Words Can Change the World
Originally Published in Belle Magazine
Despite the challenges and the way it may have looked from the outside, I knew that our family had been blessed with two wonderful gifts. My siblings have defied the odds and are living proof of miracles. I will never forget the day that I witnessed Brock not only walk, but RUN as he carried the torch at the Special Olympics Games! I watched with pride as Brantley competed in her high school pageant with confidence. Seeing all of the tremendous obstacles that they have overcome through the years inspired me to be their voice and help other children and their families whose lives have been impacted by obstacles and challenges. In 2004, I founded Lindley’s Alliance for Disabled Youth, a 501©3 organization to raise awareness, funds and hope. Through projects, events and fundraising campaigns, I have been able to raise over $20,000 dollars for Greenville Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH).
I have realized through the years that with the right message I have not only the voice, but also the ability to actually make a difference. While appearing on the television show Glee, I was introduced to a public service announcement called: Not Acceptable: starring Jane Lunch (“Coach Sue Sylvester”) and Lauren Potter (”Becky,” the student who has Down Syndrome). I was thrilled and completely blown away as I watched and heard the message that as a child I had secretly longed for someone to stand up and scream – using the R-word is not acceptable! I immediately embraced and promoted the Special Olympics’ campaign. Even I was surprised at how quickly I realized that the issues even bigger and broader than that one, awful word.
With the creation of my own awareness campaign, Change Your Words / Change the World, I work to promote inclusion, kindness and respect through speaking engagements, media interviews, the internet and social media. With the launch of my website www.changewords.org, I am building a brand and simple methods for anyone to (1) learn how to change their hurtful language, (2) join thousands who have taken my pledge to change language and in turn change attitudes (3) make a donation to my alliance to support CMNH and (4) nominate young people who are Change The Word Champions. My Champions program recognizes students (along with their special “buddies”) who exhibit random acts of kindness or participate in a program that promotes inclusion. Whether my message is delivered in person, through the media or internet, I offer simple and concrete ways to get involved and make an impact that can last a lifetime.