In March 2020 the Hotel Harrington in Washington, DC, was the site of the last USA/Canada course before Covid gripped the nation and the world. Exactly 950 days had passed since we’d been to the legendary Harrington’s converted ballroom, and walking in after such a long absence was equal parts surreal, exciting, and long overdue in working to overcome stuttering.
This course coincided with INTERNATIONAL STUTTERING AWARENESS DAY, and we had lots of opportunities to educate the people of Washington about what it’s like to take control of your stutter and to overcome stuttering by working hard on self-improvement.
What happened in Washington? Our members got a renewed energy and outlook with their everyday speaking challenges and can now face them with their heads held high and proud that they are working hard to overcome stuttering/stammering.
3 new students joined 15 returning members to help each other work on overcoming stuttering, and I was so impressed by everyone’s hard work, discipline, and collaborative spirit.
Many tourists and residents in Washington, DC were extremely impressed and also inspired to see and hear people taking action and working on themselves to address an issue that is very important to them.
The people we met (strangers on the streets) were very supportive and patient when talking to our members on the streets while doing street contacts; this warmth and encouragement is something we encounter a lot when talking to strangers, and it’s rare when we encounter a person who is not supportive of someone who stammers, especially if they are doing something about it, and going beyond ‘just accepting’ the out of control stuttering of freezing, struggle, distortion also side the many tricks and avoidances generally associated with someone who stutters.
For many people who stutter, the issue is usually within themselves with how they speak. And only people who stutter really understand the emotions that go along with being out of control and not being able to speak in a dignified way. Joe Biden put it very well when he spoke to the American Institute of Stuttering in 2008:
The members of the McGuire Programme (that’s people who stutter who are actively wanting to do something about their stutter) offer a way forward to those people who want to do something about their stutter and regain their dignity.
Thousands of our members worldwide have moved beyond stuttering and now have the confidence to do things they never thought possible and to truly change their lives for the better.
We all know how important the psychological aspects of the McGuire Programme are, and our Psychological day did not disappoint. Our new students were apprehensive about using their new techniques in the real world… until they saw their coaches make 100+ contacts in the nation’s capital in just 2-1/2 hours. By Friday evening everyone had made even more progress, and I was so impressed by how all our graduates stepped up throughout the day, giving their advice and experience while continuing to challenge themselves as well.
The last day of the course saw a raucous ‘Harrison Workshop’ that pushed everyone outside the ‘artificial boxes’ we can often find ourselves in. All the new students made 100+ contacts each and gave fantastic public speeches on a soapbox on the National Mall in the shadow of the Washington Monument and Capitol building.