New video on stuttering helps teachers

Around 50,000 New Zealanders stutter, and many of them are children or teenagers.

This week a video about stuttering will be available to our country's educators in the hope of helping teachers understand what it's like to be a stutterer and how they can best support them.

And if you've ever had a stutter, you'll understand just how courageous the young participants of this video are.

"I block on words so it takes a few extra seconds to get a word out and I think generally for people, stuttering is a difficulty in producing fluent speech," 18-year-old stutterer Anoop says.

"It's a sort of time like when a person's voice can't - a person can't get the words out the way they please, the way they really want it too," nine-year-old Luke adds.

Young Kiwis expressing themselves in a way they probably never thought possible.

"It's just difficult, like trying, like knowing what you want to say but you just can't do it," 13-year-old Brooklyn says.

They're bravely hoping teachers will gain an understanding of what it's like to have a stutter, and offering some insights into how they'd like to be treated.

"Sometimes when you get stuck on a word and you can't even get the sound out, people don't realise that you're trying to talk and so they'll just talk right over you and you never get to say what you want to say so that can be really hard," 11-year-old Annabelle says.

The video's produced by START, a charitable organisation celebrating 25 years of helping stutterers - including some well-known Kiwis.

"I became a walking thesaurus, I changed words, I used notes. Everything I did was defined by and based around the fact I had a stutter and it would have done all my life but for the help that I got," Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says.

And there's another familiar face in the video - Newshub Live at 6pm presenter Mike McRoberts.

"Some of you may know me as a six o'clock news presenter," he says.

"What you might not know about me is that from the age of 11 through until my mid-teens, I also had a stutter. I had great difficulty in getting my words out, and that age it affects every single aspect of your life."

McRoberts was a librarian as a child.

"The library was a safe haven for me because it was the only place at school where talking was discouraged," he says.

"Knowing what it's like, I have incredible admiration for what the kids on the START programme have done."

One of those kids is 14-year-old Brenna.

"The more that I like thought about actually doing it and what could come from it this could be really cool and it is good to step outside my comfort zone," Brenna says.

And 12-year-old Ethan has a plea for the public.

"Probably just be more kind and understanding of the stutter and don't make fun of people because they have a stutter, just be more understanding," Ethan says.

The strong message all share is 'let me speak and help me to speak'.

Ma te huruhuru ka rere te manu - adorn the bird with feathers so it may soar.