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Theatre and therapy helps teens who stammer

An original piece of drama written and produced by and starring a group of young people who stammer received its premiere at Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP) as part of a major speech and language therapy showcase.

The young people produced the short film during an intensive week of theatre and therapy as part of a groundbreaking partnership between The REP and the citywide speech and language therapy (SLT) service for children and young people.

Twenty young people were invited to take part in intensive SLT sessions and theatre workshops over five days at The REP in a project inspired by the Birmingham premiere of a brand new production of The King’s Speech.

Throughout the ‘theatre and therapy’ week, the young people, aged 11 to 16, wrote, produced and performed in the original piece of drama which was filmed to be shown for the first time at the ‘family friendly’ SLT showcase event.

Ali Beard, professional clinical lead for the children’s SLT service, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for a group of young people who stammer to gain new experiences and skills which will be hugely beneficial in building their confidence in communicating.

“The King’s Speech story shows how therapy can make a significant difference to the life of a person with a stammer.

"We are very pleased that current developments in our citywide service enable us to provide more flexibility in how we work and overall much more accessible support for young people.”

Michael O’Hara, head of learning and participation at The REP, said: “At the very heart of our play, The King’s Speech, is the fundamental desire to find one’s voice and be heard. This is true of us all.

"The opportunity for The REP to work with speech and language therapists and use our drama workshop expertise to inspire confidence in young people who experience language fluency issues is utterly compelling to me.”

The speech and language therapy showcase will also include:  

  • information about the citywide children’s SLT service 
  • drop-in advice sessions with speech and language therapists 
  • demonstrations of how SLT can help with various communication needs 
  • taster sessions in Makaton signing 
  • information about how schools and other youth settings can purchase additional SLT support.

National exhibitors included the Communication Trustthe British Stammering Associationthe Royal College of Speech and Language Therapiststhe Giving Voice campaignA smaller showcase event for professionals was held at The REP on Thursday, 5 March. Both events were from 10am to midday. The showcase were open events and there will be child-friendly activities throughout the Saturday morning.

Kings Speech