By: Heather Grossman, M.A./CCC-SLP

To serve as "warm-up," the Young People's Workshop began with an "I Spy" scavenger hunt. The children were divided up randomly into four groups, with each group chaperoned by two adult volunteers.

Each group was given a sheet to fill out, with instructions to write down each item observed while searching around the campus for things that fit each letter pair. For example, for B_B_, one group had written "Brown Brick," while another had written "Big Bell." When each group had returned, the children took turns reporting on the items listed while a child "judge" (the sibling of one of the children participating in the workshop) ruled on each item's validity. The activity served to allow each child to informally interact with others at the workshop, before actually beginning structured activities. The participants certainly enjoyed themselves. As this initial group interaction was of relatively low demand, each child freely participated by reading aloud to the group.

For the second activity, "Make a Video," we explained to the participants that we wished to creat a video that could teach others, particularly parents and teachers, about young people's thought, needs, and personal experiences related to their stuttering difficulty. We began by suggesting situation that might be role-played. The group then discussed some of their most memorable experiences and after a short briefing, the adult facilitators left for an agreed-upon time. Among themselves, the children picked a cameraman, director, and a script writer. The actors chose their roles and the scripts were created. When the adults returned, we were told that the two scenes to be filmed would be:

1. A classroom situation where a student who stutters is laughed at by his classmates and even his teacher.
2. A father questions his son as to why he stutters and the son explains his feelings of helplessness and his need to discuss his problem more openly.
After "rehearsals," the filming took place with each Hollywood production detail intact, right down to the "Action!" and "Cut!" by the director.

On the second day of the workshop, during what turned out to be perhaps the most informative and emotionally charged portion of the event, the video was played to an audience consisting of the children and their parents, professionals in the field and adultsw who stutter. After viewing the videos an open forum of discussion arose spontaneously. Parents questioned how often events such as these actually occur. The children quesitioned the adults who stutter about the persistence of feelings such as insecurity and of others reacting negatively to their speech The Speech Pathologist questioned the children about what they might perceive to be the most important quality in a therapist.

It was easy to step aside and let the young people take over the discussion. The videos were so well-received, turly imformative and touching, that the children seemed pround to have participated in their creation.

What I learned as a Speech-Language Pathologist was the importance of not only a collaborative effort when approaching stuttering, but how crucial it is to "empower" each child and adult who stutters with the support of people who share his or her problem and teh knowledge that each has something to teach. To me, it was absolutely inspiring.