When our founders set up START over 25 years ago they dreamed that one day anyone in Aotearoa New Zealand who stuttered would be able to get the help they needed.
Little could we anticipate that the advent of COVID-19 would be the catalyst to achieving that. As most of us now know, COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns had a massive impact on so many in our START community. For months, our speech language therapists and other team members had to work from home so clients had their therapy by Zoom.
Zoom has impacted our START community in ways that we could never have predicted. People can now get help from anywhere in Aotearoa. Currently, three out of every ten people who come to us for that help, are from out of Auckland. Pre ‘Zoom’ they could never have had the therapy and support that they are now able to receive.
Whether people who stutter live in Auckland, Tauranga, Wanganui, Foxton, Napier, Wellington, Invercargill, Christchurch or Westport, or anywhere else in our country (with access to an internet connection), they are able to work with one of our speech language therapists or our social worker. We are excited that anyone in Aotearoa, can now get help they need!
21 year old Chris is keen to share his story of what this has meant to him:
“Almost 3 years ago now, when I went off to university, I was struggling with my speech so I tried to look for any speech therapy places in Wellington but none looked as if they’d be that much help.
I almost gave up on the search but luckily enough my mum gave me a call and said that there was this really good organisation in Auckland called START, and that they do the therapy over Zoom.
At first I was very sceptical but I thought I’d try it out anyway and see if it helped. After just a few weeks of doing the therapy over Zoom I could already see improvements and ways that it was helping me just like if I were to do it in person. I picked up helpful techniques and practiced skills to aid in my journey to be more fluent. I think that START having the option to do therapy over Zoom is great. It means people who stutter from all over New Zealand can reach out to START for some help. For me, Zoom therapy has been just as beneficial as in-person therapy and I’d highly recommend it.”
With your help we can continue to provide therapy and support to people from all over Aotearoa, despite the increasing demand. Just as Chris was able to get the help and support he needed at such an important time in his life, we want everyone else to be able to get the help they need when they need it.