After their family’s Illinois home was vandalized with hate speech aimed at their adopted sisters, two young boys found a way to fight back (video below).
In 2011, the Hollis family woke to a disturbing surprise.
“We live in a small town in Central Illinois and woke one morning in April 2011 to find our home and cars had been spray painted,” mother Anne Hollis told Everyone Matters.
The hate-filled words they found spray painted on their home included ”RETARD” and “Get Outta Here.”
The attack against the Hollis family occurred because their adopted daughters from Ukraine have Down Syndrome, according to Little Things.
“That day changed my life forever,” Anne said.
Anne’s two sons, then aged 6 and 7, wanted to fight back by making a video.
“[To] speak up for our sisters,” the boys said.
The video they made with the help of their parents called on the public to stop using the word “retard.”
The Everyone Matters initiative became aware of the video and asked if they could share it with their global audience.
The Hollis family agreed, and the video and family’s story soon went viral, with at least 375,000 reactions, 24,000 comments, and more than 165,000 shares on Facebook.
On YouTube, the video has been viewed more than 887,000 times.
In the video, the boys hold up index cards that read, “For Meg and Alina”—their sisters, after sharing what happened to their home.
They continue to use the index cards to make their statement.
The first card the boy’s hold up at each turn uses a word with “Re” at the beginning, signaling their future call to stop using the word “retard” to refer to people with Down Syndrome.
“Our sisters are…realizing that with some hard work and help they can do anything,” the next cards read.
“Ready to play or dance whenever you are!” the following cards read, as images of their sisters then fill the screen. “Reading new words all the time. Reacting with a range of emotions—they are NOT always happy!”
“That is a stereotype about people with Down Syndrome,” the next cards explain, before injecting a bit of humor into the video. “Don’t believe us? The you take away Meg’s iPad and see how she reacts!”
The boys continue to hold up cards that debunk stereotypes and preconceived notions about people with Down Syndrome.
They include how the girls are reaching new goals all the time, always willing to help a friend, and always available to make you smile.
“Receiving the love and support of many. Thank you,” two cards read together as one. “Refusing to give up! They work hard each day.”
As the boys display the cards, the video cuts to pictures of their family, including their mom and dad and sisters.
The boys then ask whether you, the viewer, will help their sisters.
“Recruiting others to help them on their journey. Will you?” the cards read, before the next admit that their sisters rebel just like all other kids do.
“They are changing the world! Reducing ignorance, intolerance, and hate,” the cards state. “And replacing those ugly things with hope, love and respect.”
The next two cards that appear on the screen make a bold statement with just one word, repeated on each card: “Respect.”
“Our sisters are NOT Retards,” the next cards read, before being torn in half by the boys.
They then make the call for help in stopping the use of the word “retard” by taking the pledge at www.r-word.org.
To date, more than 650,000 people have made the online pledge.
Sources: Everyone Matters/Facebook, Everyone Matters/YouTube, Little Things, R-word / Photo credit: Hollis family via Everyone Matters/YouTube