Going back now about 6 or maybe even 7 years I took a leap and attended my first British Stammering Association conference. Now you might think that this does not sound like a bundle of laughs. You may think that even it will be a sombre affair where lots of troubled souls gather together to agree at how difficult this so called affliction can be. Going to my first one I had no idea at what to expect. Facebook had really taken off and I had got in touch with numerous people, of all ages and many of us had never really even spoken to another person who stammered never mind go to a whole conference full of them! In fact they all seemed pretty normal!!
So off I went, quite chuffed I had a child free weekend to be fair, and decided that I could do this. Little did I know that it would be rather life changing!
At this first conference I was inspired by so many people, men and women who embraced life, were so successful in their fields and also just damn happy fine folk! The shine from these bright stars rubbed off onto me and I found myself really getting involved in all sorts of things.
Over the years I have taken part in music workshops, Women Who Stammer groups ( we are in a minority within a minority and all that you know!), photography projects and at my last conference I even presented a workshop based on Positivity (go me!). There is research discussions and talks for the geeks (kidding it is quite interesting), circus skills (I hammered a nail up a man’s nose…) and many other things I have forgotten!
Work from the photography project was then used in an exhibition ‘The Art of Communication’
This year in Cardiff, always great to see a new city, there is also going to be an afternoon programme for children and young people which is fantastic for both the young folk and their parents. So many parents could really do with finding a friend in what can be an extremely emotional rollercoaster as they support and guide their child through the tough times. But also – it is nice to share the successes, the good times, the achievements that their kids will have all through life.
Also there is an Art Exhibition which people can enter their own pieces! I am rather excited to see some of the works going up as we have some incredibly talented people amongst us stammering folk! Details are here https://www.stammering.org/speaking-out/article/bsa-open-art-exhibition-2018-cardiff – and don’t think its only for the talented few, far from it, anyone can enter! Closing date for entries is this Friday (17 Aug) so get in their quickly.
Then there is the evening stuff. Now again I had no idea what to expect, would it be awkward, would it be all quiet, people not wanting to be heard to stammer, all sorts of crazy went round my head. Well I had no need to fear, it was brilliant. Why did I think anyone would be any different to me?? I love to go out, enjoy a few glasses of wine (ahem…) and meet new people, chat about anything! It was brilliant, the bar area was always busy, the noise was as bad as in any pub back home!
So if you have any doubts about going, or are not sure if you will like it, then stop. This will be my fourth conference, or is it five….I have lost count! All I know is that it is a brilliant weekend to be inspired, motivated and realise you are not on your own. It is all about finding your voice! Finding freedom to be who you want to be!