By: Regina Wright ~Staff Writer~
Active Minds, Xavier’s mental health advocacy group, and the LGBTQ Alliance held the “Words Hurt” dodgeball game to bring attention to hurtful words and phrases used every day.
On Dec. 5, the event brought 150 people together to play in the game in the O’Connor Sports Center.
Active Minds members hoped to raise awareness about the damage that can be caused when people use hurtful phrases without paying attention to the actual meaning of the words or even without intentionally targeting an individual or a group.
“We wanted to do something fun and entertaining to draw people, but the metaphor of ‘words hurt’ could not have fit better with any game but dodgeball,” junior Lindsey Mooney, president of Active Minds, said.
Each ball had masking tape with phrases such as “no homo, bro” and “my ex was crazy” attached to them.
“It’s significant that we try to avoid and dodge these hurtful phrases, but not all of us escape them,” Mooney said. Although players were able to physically dodge rubber balls during the game, many people may not be able to dodge hurtful words when they are said so casually in day-to-day life.
“Everyday we use words and phrases that make fun of and stigmatize individuals because of who they are,” Mooney said. “Those with mental illnesses obviously did not choose to be sick and suffering, but we diminish their pain every time we use statements like, ‘I’m so OCD about my desk,’ ‘This weather is bipolar’ or ‘This class makes me want to kill myself.’”
Active Minds and the LGBTQ Alliance ultimately created the event with a common goal of addressing hurtful words, bringing awareness and promoting mutual respect on campus.
“We fail to realize just how harmful these phrases can be when we make jokes out of them instead of respecting everyone who suffers from a mental illness or identifies as LGBTQ,” Mooney said.
The team who placed first won a $150 gift card to Amazon, and the last two people standing at the end of the tournament each won a $25 Amazon gift card.