Cameron Francek is a man on a mission.
For the past 100 days, Francek, a 26-year-old man from Royal Oak, Michigan, has been introducing himself to strangers and disclosing his stuttering in an effort to both incite positive change in himself and spread stuttering awareness.
“I wasn’t feeling like myself at places like work, school and the gym, with more frequent avoidance,” he says. “I found myself in a challenging time and I felt like how I was handling my stuttering was at the core of these struggles. I remember feeling like my speech had started to take over and alter how I interacted with people and how I presented myself in public, I hated that. “
That’s why, in February, Francek embarked on what he calls 100stutterProject.
“I wanted to transform into more of the person I see myself as, whether it was at work, school, with people, wherever,” he says. “I wanted 100stutterProject to be the anchor in my efforts to achieve all sorts of goals I have. I also wanted 100stutterProject to inspire change in my community.”
For those 100 days, Francek advertised his stuttering to “all kinds of people,” including cashiers, co-workers, acquaintances, baristas, teachers, classmates and servers.
“I set out to advertise my stuttering to a different person everyday,” he says. “I chose to approach this by advertising verbally due to some personal goals I have. For instance, I wanted to be more comfortable approaching people, I wanted to improve my eye contact, rate of speech and improve the frequency with which I implemented some tools.”
But, “it’s important for people to know that advertising can be over any medium,” he adds, citing text messages, emails, phone calls or social media as examples. “It’s more about opening that line of communication regarding our stuttering.”
And what better time to do this than National Stuttering Awareness Week? That’s right. The second week of May marks Stuttering Awareness Week in the U.S.
But stuttering really is a worldwide phenomenon. According to the National Stuttering Association (NSA) based in New York, about one per cent of the entire global population stutters – folks from all walks of life. Despite this, “stuttering is widely misunderstood, with conflicting theories and unsubstantiated claims for treatment programs,” notes information from the NSA.
So, as someone who also stutters, stay tuned for more blog posts this week about stuttering, its myths and misconceptions. And if you have any questions about stuttering, feel free to ask me.