Studies show that up to 10% of all children will develop a stutter at some period in their life, lasting from a few weeks to several years. Stuttering can be a source of emotional distress for many, causing a plummet in self-confidence and sometimes even stunted social development.
In response to the prevalent issue, organizations are rising to address the problem and effects of stutters on children. One such group is Every 1 Voice Matters, a non-profit program that exists to provide children with speech disorders with resources to aid with social and communicative barriers among children. The community project does so by providing education, community outreach programs, and events.
The org’s founder, Sherrikka Myers, knows the pains of speech disorder all too well. Growing up, she struggled with stuttering. “Having a stutter was frustrating and isolating,” shares Sherrikka on the program’s Facebook page. “I seldom spoke to people for fear that I would expose my stuttering and get teased.” Sherrikka recounted her turning point sometime in middle school when she was assigned to make morning announcements. At that moment, she could barely say her name, let alone speak. From that moment on, Sherrikka decided to work on her speech. She learned techniques that helped her work around her stutter, and she started to develop better communication.
According to Sherrikka, learning to speak was one of the most life-changing transformations in her life. Today, she is determined to help children who struggle with speech disorders to experience the same.
Sherrikka’s initiative started when she discovered that her first grandchild had developed a stuttering problem. In an attempt to shield him from the bullying, the loving grandmother took it upon herself to teach the young boy to overcome his speech impairment. Her little project with her grandchild worked, and she went back to school to gain an associate degree in marketing and founded her non-profit, Every 1 Voice Matters.
Speech impairment can be very debilitating at a young age. But because children mostly have high learning abilities, childhood is the best time to deal with a stutter. Doing so later on in life could prove more challenging and, in some instances, can turn out to be an unfruitful endeavor.
That’s why Every 1 Voice Matters is such an effective program. Through their educational programs, Sherrikka has been able to help dozens of kids develop better speech and communication. As a way of expanding her efforts, she is starting a kid’s storytelling series around the non-profit’s mascot, Lil Herbie. The series started with a collection of online videos that kids can read as a way of developing their speech. Sherrikka has also developed a paperback version of the series and has entitled it Herbie’s New Home. Growing up, Sherrikka didn’t have access to a lot of resources. Reading books was one of her best strategies for improving her speech. She hopes that the Herbie mini-series will help more kids experience the same success.
In all she does, Sherrikka hopes to inspire children and their parents to persevere despite the challenge. She wants kids to learn how to believe in themselves no matter how slow or painful the process of developing their speech can be. Sherrikka prays that her humble origins would inspire more people to keep working on their disabilities and turn their trials into triumphs.