As many of you know, Springboard does a lot of work in France, including producing our Disability Matters Europe event in Paris. I just heard from one of our clients that Toy inkpads featuring the term “Mentally ill holidays” were included as free gifts last month in bags of Mini Babybel cheese. Unapei, a disability group in France, serving people with cognitive impairments called for a boycott; the concern that children will see this and when they go back to school and talk about their holidays they may say they had a mentally ill holiday. In France, kids will often use the term, “malade mental” to mean extraordinary so the slogan said, “des vacances de malade mental”. The good news is that Babybel apologized, immediately stopped production and is attempting to remove these from stores. The bad news is that it’s already out there and worse, that it appears that if Unapei had not spoken out, no-one would have stopped it.

Words can be hurtful whether intentional or not. Slang terms are particularly hurtful and harmful. This is why Springboard’s Disability Etiquette and Awareness Programs offered around the globe are so important. The programs address verbal, written and body language, actions and interactions with individuals who have all types of disabilities including invisible ones. Perhaps Babybel and the entire Bel Group will consider collaborating with Springboard in the future.


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