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NBA player brings message of hope to Camp T.A.L.K.S.

Jun. 23, 2021, 9:00 AM


NBA player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist attended Camp T.A.L.K.S: Talking and Learning with Kids who Stutter, to talk to the campers about his story and answer their questions. Photos by: Susan Urmy

The children of Camp TALKS (Talking and Learning with Kids who Stutter) were excited to welcome Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — NBA player and person who stutters — to camp recently, where they were able to listen to his story and advice. Kidd-Gilchrist, an advocate for the stuttering community, recently launched Change & Impact, a stuttering initiative focused on improving access to health care and expanding services and resources for those who stutter.

“I’m a person who stutters, and at times I may not like it, but it makes me ‘me’ at the end of the day,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I try to embrace that every day.” Kidd-Gilchrist answered insightful questions from the campers about what inspired him to speak up for people who stutter and how to deal with bullies, and he also got to ask a few questions of his own.

Natalie Pawlak, a speech-language pathology (SLP) master’s student, was in attendance at Camp TALKS along with several of her peers. When Kidd-Gilchrist asked how the SLP program prepares students to interact and bond with children who stutter, Pawlak offered an answer.

“This camp is my first real-world interaction with people who stutter,” said Pawlak. “This has been really eye-opening, because every camper here has a unique story, and every person talks in an individual way. I think valuing each person as an individual while also cultivating a community of people who stutter is the best way to move forward in our careers.”

“Camp TALKS is such a wonderful resource for children who stutter because campers have a chance to make friends with those who are facing similar communication challenges,” said Anne Marie Tharpe, PhD, chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences and associate director of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center. “Being able to meet successful adults who stutter, like Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist, is a particularly special inspiration to them.”

Camp TALKS is a weeklong day camp for children and teens who stutter and their families. The camp’s mission is to empower children and teens who stutter to become confident communicators by developing understanding and acceptance of their stuttering, tools for improving communication and self-advocacy skills for educating others about stuttering.

If you would like more information on Camp TALKS, please contact Jack Henderson at or call 615-875-7671.

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