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FMS sisters garner state award nod

John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Farragut Middle school seventh-grader Natalie Campbell and her sister, Olivia, a fourth-grader at Farragut Intermediate School, both fill that criteria and have been nominated by The Arc Tennessee for the Tennessee Disability Mega Conference’s Promising Young Leader Award.

The girls were nominated when Frank Meeuwis, director of The Arc Tennessee’s People Talking to People Project in Nashville, read in farragutpress of Natalie’s leadership in the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, in which she led hundreds of FMS students to pledge to eradicate the word “retard” from their vocabulary.

Natalie led the campaign in honor of Olivia, who has Downs syndrome.

“The campaign is about the word ‘retard’ and how it affects others and how, whenever you say the word, you are insulting Olivia and people like Olivia by saying that is something they would do or how they would act,” Natalie said.

The girls’ mother, Jackie Campbell, said she and her family were surprised that someone from Nashville had heard of the campaign.

“It just goes to show that one or two people’s message truly spreads and touches people. Natalie will never realize how many people her speech touched, and that is quite humbling that she is being honored in that way,” she added.

Jackie said she is proud of Natalie’s courage.

“It was a really bold step for someone in seventh grade to challenge other people to consider changing. I told her I would be understanding with whatever degree she decided to participate. She decided on her own to go ahead and be extremely active for her sister. It shows her deep love, but it also shows tremendous courage to step out in such a public way with this issue,” she said.

Natalie said she felt the campaign was something she needed to do for Olivia and she knew she wouldn’t fail.

“I just kind of knew that God had given me this opportunity and that he wouldn’t watch me fail. So I just prayed about it and I knew he would help me,” she said.

Natalie said she feels honored to be nominated.

“Being nominated is certainly a privilege and one of the upsides to doing the campaign, but I was just glad that everyone got to hear [about the campaign] and hopefully this will give it more and more publicity and more people will hear about it and be affected by it,” she added.

Olivia is excited about her nomination and said she knows what it takes to be a good leader – following the rules and being a good friend.

“Olivia loves to lead,” Jackie said.

“She likes to be the leader in gymnastics and on the baseball field. She takes pride in her work and what she does. She sets an example for all of us about how to have unconditional love and how to see people for what they are and not what they look like or sound like, or what they wear, and she is extremely forgiving, and to me, that is a good leader,” she added.

“The Promising Young Leader award honors a person or a group of people under 22 years of age who have shown great leadership potential as seen through their volunteer work or an event that enhances opportunities for people with disabilities in the community.

Meeuwis said, “It is just really good to see that Natalie and her sister, Olivia, are stepping up to the front in their community and portraying people with a disability as a full member of their community and showing support for her and for the respect that everyone deserves.”

If the girls win they will be invited to the Tennessee Disability Mega Conference’s award ceremony Friday, June 3, at the Nashville Airport Marriott.

For more information on the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, and to make the pledge, visit

To read the original Spread the Word to End the Word article, visit


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