It’s the last afternoon of the Michael Palin Centre ‘intensive’ (that’s a two week intensive group therapy course for 10 to 14 year old children who stammer and their parents, supported by Action for Stammering Children). And it has been intense……..but in a good way.
Intensely moving to see young people, whose only way of coping with their stammer was to hide it away, now talking openly about it – to their families, their friends, even on Twitter and Instagram.
Intensely encouraging to hear parents tell how their children will no longer let them order their food for them in a restaurant, or answer questions on their behalf.
Intensely powerful to see children and parents alike open their eyes to new possibilities for the future – broader horizons where stammering does not restrict their choices of subjects to be studied, pastimes to be pursued, jobs to be trained for. Not because they are no longer stammering, but because they know they can do all those things, whether or not they stammer.
And intensely humbling to hear from our visitors – Ed Balls, Ollie Dimsdale and Alistair Barr, all of whom stammer and have achieved huge success in their chosen field, all of which involves lots of talking and all of whom are shining lights for the rest of us. When Ollie Dimsdale was asked how he has succeeded as an actor even though he stammers, he said we only had to look at heroes of the Invictus Games to see greater examples of overcoming adversity, and if those guys could do it – why not the rest of us?
This group of children are heroes, leaving us today with their fabulously supportive parents, to take back into their everyday lives their new skills, their new determination and confidence and to start living the lives they were meant to.