Happy (Open) Days

John Evans | 09.03.2015

It’s just a week or so since I was at the Edinburgh Open Day organised by the Scottish Stammering Network – and what a good memory it is!

Open Days are when people who stammer can meet other people who stammer, sometimes for the first time. It is when we can share experiences about living with a stammer, about what works for us and what doesn’t work, what gives us strength, and renew our courage and our hope.

Everyone comes as they are: some looking for fluency and ways to deal with shame and fear, some believing that the ancient wisdom of the world will help them, some putting their faith in prayer and meditation, some wanting to try out the latest fluency apps on their smartphones.

Open Days are where people get the chance to pick up a microphone and tell their stories – it’s like hearing the climax of The King’s Speech over and over again. It’s where we hear genuine communication with falseness stripped away – including the falseness involved in searching for perfect fluency.

Speech therapists come as well, to share their expertise or just to have the chance to meet people who stammer outside the clinical environment. SLT students find themselves moved at the struggles and courage of those they are being trained to help – the students are always lovely people, full of kindness and hope.

A good Open Day leaves everyone feeling empowered, ready to go back into the world next day and take on the challenges of speaking out. It can also be the launch pad for a local self-help group.

This Edinburgh Open Day ticked all the boxes. It was a real credit to the organisers, and such a worthwhile thing to have done. You can see more about on the Facebook page of the Scottish Stammering Network. If you live in or near Scotland, try and make it to one of their other Open Days.

The UK as a whole needs more Open Days, and BSA is here to help that happen. If you think you might like to organise an Open Day, just contact the BSA Office. Norbert and the team will do the best they can to help you, including putting you in touch with people like myself who have organised Open Days in the past and have templates you can use. We should even have an “Open Day Organisers Guide” out soon!