Stuttering For A Purpose
Posted October 19, 2015on:
I had the opportunity to speak on Saturday via Skype at the Irish Stammering Association’s annual National Stammering Awareness Day event in Dublin, Ireland. I was asked to be a keynote speaker during their full day conference style event and speak on the theme of this year’s ISAD, “Spread The Word – Educate, Cooperate, Communicate.”
I wondered what I could speak about that would best convey how I have spread the word about stuttering awareness. Purpose came to mind.
I remember when I attended my first FRIENDS conference in 2008 and I realized that stuttering can actually have purpose. FRIENDS is the association for young people who stutter. It is a parent driven group that is all about support for young people who stutter and their parents.
I learned about purpose after hearing parents tell me how happy they were that I had come to the conference and shared myself and stories with them. For the first time in many years, I realized that my stuttering could be bigger than just me. That I could use it to spread the word and educate others about stuttering, if I dared.
After that FRIENDS conference, I became a real advocate for stuttering awareness. I had articles written in the local newspapers, organized several stuttering events in the community and began visiting middle schools to educate kids who don’t stutter on what stuttering is and tied it into teasing and bullying prevention. Doing these types of awareness activities became bigger for me than my stuttering.
So, that’s what I spoke about at the Irish Stammering Awareness event on Saturday – purpose. How a sense of purpose can be bigger than you and how my desire to help others has kind of transcended my own stuttering.
I shared with the group about the advocacy activities that I do and challenged them to consider doing similar. It was a great experience, even with some technology disruptions. I felt honored to have been asked to share my story and to talk about purpose. Here’s a picture of me as we were just getting started.