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VIDEO: Stop Bullying with George Springer

George Springer has earned the MVP award in Major League Baseball - but he's also earned our respect for his consistent courage as an articulate spokesman and stand-out role-model for kids and young people who stutter.

 
 

Reigning World Series MVP George Springer joins the Shred Hate campaign to stop bullying and encourage young fans to "Choose Kindness"

 
I want kids to be themselves. And enjoy their lives.
— George Springer
 

Clients’ Voices: Ali Nicklas Talks about #Failure and #Resilience

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Ali Nicklas, Founder and President, Different & Able    anicklas@differentandable.org    www.instagram.com/differentandable

Ali Nicklas, Founder and President, Different & Able

anicklas@differentandable.org
www.instagram.com/differentandable

 

INTRODUCTION:

Good evening. Thank you Dr. Kinsey and Renata Henry for this opportunity. And thank you to the graduating class. It is an honor to be here at Hewitt, speaking with you, at your alumni induction dinner.

FAILURE:

I was told that the “word of the year” is “failure.” I know a little about that. I’ve done it several times. At this point, I would say I’ve learned to “fail very well.”

I want to share some words about my experiences at Hewitt, my journey and my failures.


TIME AT HEWITT:

It’s been 10 years since I graduated in the class of 2008, but my memories of my time here, are as vivid as ever. I remember my first day of Kindergarten, coming into my classroom, greeted by Ms. Notham and meeting the kids in my class. As much as I remember the visual scene; I also so remember the visceral feeling. It felt warm and inviting. It felt like a community.

I came to Hewitt as a child with a unique set of gifts, as well as a unique set of challenges. I had physical differences and learning difficulties unlike many of my classmates.

I worried if I would fit in. I wondered if I would measure-up to my parents’ and teachers’ expectations. I questioned what my future life could look like. Would I fail? Would I be able to make-it through and succeed? And it was scary at times.


CHALLENGES @ HEWITT:

Due to my learning challenges, geometry was really challenging. I thought math was about numbers, and then it became all about shapes and figures. (Until we got to algebra and that’s when math became all about letters a, b, c and x, y z.) I remember my teacher sitting down with me, telling me “don’t give up” - “you got this!”

Sports were also harder for me. I couldn’t run as fast as some of my peers because of my physical differences. I remember how my teachers supported and motivated me to “stick with it” and persevere even though it was hard.

There were many times I was overwhelmed. I wanted a pass. I wanted to quit.

I am where I am today, because I didn’t quit.

I am where I am today because of my teachers.

I am where I am today because of my family.

I am where I am today because of my inner resilience - I would show the world who I am on the inside!

And I am where I am today because of my differences.

Along the way, I learned how much, one-person can make a life-changing impact for another person. My friends, my teachers and my family, made the difference for me. And I am forever grateful, and ever-eager to give back.


GOALS AND PURPOSE IN LIFE:

So, it’s no surprise, I dreamt of a career of helping others, and paying-it-forward.

In the upper school, I enjoyed electives like “Anatomy and Physiology” and “Intro to Psychology.” I dreamt of becoming a doctor or psychologist.

So, when I went off to college, I registered for the courses in sciences and psychology. But it wasn’t what I expected! I didn’t enjoy the course material and by all measures, I failed the class. Suddenly, I was confronted by the fact that my dream of becoming a doctor or psychologist wasn’t looking likely. I was back to square-one. I wondered, and I feared:

What course of study was right for me?

What career should I pursue?

Was I going to be a failure?

It was then, I remembered geometry, gym class and the many times I struggled and even failed tests. In fact, it got so rough, there was a time in Hewitt middle school when we were considering whether Hewitt was the best place for me. Needless to say - I dug deeper, and found resources and success I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Sometimes, failure is like that: it forces you to dig deeper than you think you can. To tap into a reservoir of otherwise untapped power and ability. So, following my “failed attempt” with the sciences and psychology, I pivoted to linguistics and language disorders. These classes interested me, I enjoyed the material and I was excited by the career of speech language pathology. I declared my major in Speech Language Pathology. I graduated Marymount Manhattan College with my BA in Speech Language Pathology and thought to myself, grad school is the next step in my path to career success.

Well… I was in for a big surprise.

I succeeded in receiving admission to graduate school at Lehman College, AND coursework continued to be of-interest, AND even I performed well on coursework, BUT... the clinical practicum was really challenging for me. As hard as

I tried, I wasn’t finding my way and I wasn’t meeting my professors’ expectations. I tried my hardest the first time, and even after failing my practicum, I tried again, repeating the practicum a second time, and failing again. Double fail.

I realized I wasn’t able to succeed in the training - and the graduate program wasn’t a good fit for me. So I made the difficult decision to accept my failure, and I terminated my studies in Speech Language Pathology. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t a bright time for me. At this point, I had failed in my first pursuit of medicine and psychology. And now I had also failed in my pursuit to speech language pathology. 2 strikes. I didn’t know what to do. What kind of future was in-store for me? I was a flurry of ideas, doubts and challenges during this time.


STARTING D&A:

And then, a few experiences coincided:

1. My friend Valentine was creating a website for her nutrition practice.

2. And I was discussing my situation with a friend who is a speech therapist, and he suggested there might be a way to “give back,” doing meaningful work, making a difference and really achieving everything I wanted to achieve as a speech language pathologist - even if I wasn’t going to be a speech language pathologist.

And from these different experiences, conversations and insights, Different and Able was born in the fall of 2017.

I decided to use social media and a website to provide support and resources for people with “differences.” My passion grew; I invested more and more time collecting resources and personal stories; meeting leading professionals and celebrities; and starting a proper non-profit organization to grow Different and Able. My failures. My “near strike-out” actually laid the foundation for my foundation.

Through the Different & Able Foundation I am:

  • Empowering people who live with physical, learning, speech, emotional and medical differences;

  • Offering hope and inspiration, professional resources and a community of ongoing support;

  • Building a more diverse and tolerant community, with bridges of access for all people, irrespective of the differences in their abilities.

The website will launch soon. For now, you can follow-us on Instagram @differentandable

Now you see, I may have failed courses but I learned many lessons. I learned to reach high. I learned to work hard, and then when it gets tough… work harder. I learned to listen to myself. And I learned to lean-on others and listen to others’ journeys. And I learned that when you reach your limits, that’s where the real growth begins.

At my Hewitt graduation, I remember the speech delivered by Carolynn Erisman, the then Assistant Head of School. She called it: “Life is not a straight line”. Life isn’t a linear equation. It isn’t a straight line from here to who you become. Lean-into-it.

As the saying goes: “You may try and fail. Just make sure, you don’t fail to try!”

And if you do try, I promise you will find your meaning and purpose. And when you do, and whatever you become, come back to Hewitt to share your story so some 12th grade girls, and even younger ones, can learn from your life journey and find what path they choose to try.

Sparking Conversation through Literacy

It can be really challenging to talk about uncomfortable topics.
All the more so when speaking with our kids.

Books can be really helpful to open-up crucial conversations with young people.

 
Mother-reading-with-young-children.jpg
 

Never underestimate young people, and the valuable opportunities to open conversations to engage important topics!

Practical suggestion: Shared reading time can be a great opportunity to sit-down with your child and enjoy real quality time.  Every time you do, you strengthen their reading skills, and you also create a rich opportunity to make connections from the text-to-life.

Talking about stuttering with your child can feel overwhelming.  As a caregiver, you may have a lot of your own questions and emotions about stuttering and/or having a conversation about stuttering.  You are not alone. 

Try using a book to facilitate the conversations.

Books can provide clarity - making it easier for the both of you.

And you may enjoy some bonus smiles along the way!

Here is a list of books that may help start the conversation:

“Steggie’s Stutter” by: Jack Hughes

“Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand” by: Artie Knapp or  access this story for free on Youtube

“Sophie’s Stutter” by: Ingrid Bruske

“Gabriela (American Girl)” by: Teresa E. Harris

“Paperboy” by Vince Vawter

“Copyboy” by Vince Vawter

“When Oliver Speaks” by Kimberly Garvin and Saadiq Wicks

 
 
 

Happy Reading!

Tiffany Marino, associate speech-language pathologist, Schneider Speech

 

A Stuttering Transformation - Teen Tells Her Own Story

My old self:

I am a very quiet girl.  Usually I prefer to sit on the side and not draw too much attention.  Speaking is my fear.  I will do anything to avoid it; whether it's running out of the room or just acting as if I don't know the answer to the question.  Most of my friends know me as the girl who doesn't speak in class.  Only my close friends have really heard me talk. 

I don't like that people see me this way, but I guess it's better than the alternative - stuttering

Ever since I began to speak I've had a stutter. My earliest memory of stuttering is in the 3rd grade, that's when I asked my parents to go to a speech therapist for the first time. I always thought of my stutter as something to be embarrassed of, to be ashamed of.  I thought of it as a disability.  Instead of facing my stutter and making the best of it, I tried to hide it and run away from it.

 
 

 

My new self:

I may not be the loudest or most talkative girl in the world, but I'm no longer afraid to speak.

It's not that the stutter disappeared, I just think of it in a completely different way.  I learned to see my stutter as a part of me, and to embrace it.  God only challenges us with challenges we are able to face, and if God gave me a stutter then I must be able to face it.

I realized that my stutter makes me unique, it makes me a more patient person and it teaches me the value of words. Over the past few years I've gone through major changes in my life and now I'm happy to say that: I have spoken in front of my class; I took an oral exam and scored very well on it; I make phone calls whenever I want to; and I even got a job which requires speaking to customers and co-workers all the time.

 

My journey to my new self:

As I mentioned, over the past few years I've gone through big changes that completely turned my life around in such a positive way.  This process started when I first met Uri from Schneider Speech in 9th grade.  I came to Uri as my old self and left just I started to reach my new self.

On my way towards my new self, I endured several setbacks alongside many victories.
I needed to be patient with myself;
and I also needed my speech therapist to be patient with me as well. 
— Devora

Pushing me too far, too soon, was a terrible mistake. 
Whether it was my speech therapist, my friends, my family or my teachers. Over the years I've had teachers who tried to force me to speak in class and on the other hand teachers who respected my request not to be called on.  I definitely had a much better relationship with the teachers who respected my silence than with the teachers who did not.  The teachers who gave me my space were in fact the ones who ended up hearing me speak more in class voluntarily.

Surprisingly, the teachers who gave me my space, were the ones who ended up hearing me speak more in class.

Another thing that was not helpful during those years was my own constant desire to cure my stutter.  Because I was so focused on getting rid of the stutter, I didn't give myself the opportunity to learn to accept it and live happily with it.  In the back of my mind I knew that I was probably going to have a stutter for the rest of my life but I wasn't willing to give up. The more I tried to get rid of the stutter the more upsetting it was every time I wasn't able to speak fluently.  

I felt like a failure. But once I accepted myself with the stutter and decided I won't let it get in my way, the stutter actually got significantly better and bothered me a lot less.

As a teenager going to speech therapy, patience was the key to my transformation. I needed to be patient with myself, and I needed my speech therapist to be patient with me as well.  Every big change I went through was made up of a lot of small changes that could not all happen at once.

When I first met Uri I remember telling him "I will never call to order pizza" and "I will never speak in front of my class."  Uri assured me, over and over again, that one day, I could do all those things.  Even though I didn't believe him, something inside me wanted to prove him right and prove me wrong.

My therapist's belief in me was more than I had in myself.  I think that belief was a big part of my change.

My last meeting with Uri was at the end of 10th grade. I didn't think it would be my last meeting, I was sure I would be back again when things got hard. But once I stopped going to speech therapy I started to really think about everything that happened during our meetings.

The more time passed the more I saw myself change. I became less afraid of stuttering and slowly started to do the things I told Uri I would never do. The more time passed the more I saw myself change. I became less afraid of stuttering and slowly started to do the things I told Uri I would never do.

I was a much stronger person and when things got a little hard I didn't even feel the need to go back to speech therapy, because I was able to handle it myself.

It turns out I proved myself wrong.  He was right.  I could and would do so many of the things I said "I never could..."  And I'm so happy I did.

 

Devora Levi is 18 years old.  She lives in Israel and will be starting her national service this coming year.

 

 

VIDEO: True Stuttering Courage with George Springer

George Springer has earned the MVP award in Major League Baseball - but he's also earned our respect for his consistent courage as an articulate spokesman and stand-out role-model for kids and young people who stutter.

 

His power, speed and defensive prowess are something to be marveled. As Jen Lada reports, it is his courage, character and fearlessness that have truly made an impact in the lives of those who stutter.

 
The game allowed me to be who I am
— George Springer