Camp helps kids overcome stuttering

You can find summer camps of all kinds throughout Texas, but this week on the 40 acres, a special type of camp is taking place.

At first glance,  it looks like any other camp.  Kids gather outside, to cheer and support one another.

But this camp is not focused on that first glance, but that first speech.

"Everyone here has a stutter," said Royal Cumby, a 13-year-old who attends Camp Dream. Speak. Live.,  part of the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute, which is affiliated with the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas.

He's one of 58 campers, aged 4 to 18, to take part in the week-long intensive therapy program.

"It just is awesome. Because you don't get made fun of it if you do (like) at school," Cumby explained.

"I don't fit out. I fit in," said Ziyaad Alghamdi, who traveled from Saudia Arabia to attend the camp.

Dr. Courtney Byrd, the founding director of the camp, works with graduate and research students at U-T. to help lead the camp.  She says they have students from Saudi Arabia, UK, South America, India, China, as well as several states.

Like Cumby and Alghamdi, this isn't 8-year-old Asa Wilson's first go-around

"Well I've learned not to let fear stop me, and I can be whatever I want to be despite my stutter," Wilson said.

Wilson offered advice if you encounter somebody who stutters.

"f you know anyone who stutters, don't finish their sentences. Or make fun of them. Just give them their time," explained Wilson.

Through speech therapy exercises and self-esteem building activities, campers enjoy an environment where they can grow.

"That I mean, I'm not just the one who sticks out. I'm not different. I have so many other people that are just like me," said Wilson.

Instead of running from it, campers - and counselors like Rebecca Li - are taught to own it.

"It's something I've hidden my whole life, so it was really hard for me to do that at first," said Li.

She's studying to become a nurse, with plans to graduate from UT in December.

"For me personally, before I was part of this program, I felt like I was inferior to everybody else.  And that's obviously not true," said Li.

It's a simple message for a complex condition.

The camp is free to campers and is funded through tax-deductible donations.

Dr. Byrd said they have plans to expand the camp next year to the Netherlands.

To learn more about the program, click here and here.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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