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CSA: Courage, Support, Acceptance

Jordan ScottMary Wood, Toronto 1995

When I think back on my 23 years involved with the the Canadian Stuttering Association, the words that come to mind are Support, Laughter, Love, and a large amount of acceptance for whoever I was and whatever I was experiencing.  Accepting myself as a person who stutters sure has taken me down a lot of roads that I had no idea were even there.

My Dad stuttered and I stutter, but we never talked about it. So to find out there was an organization where people talked about how they felt, what they perceived as their successes and failures was like finding an oasis in the desert. Spending that first weekend in Ottawa felt like I had come home where I could stutter openly – I found out I was a covert stutterer – so “letting it out” in public was something that I absolutely feared and didn’t happen very often.

 I cannot remember how I got involved with the Canadian Association of People who Stutter (CAPS) – and that’s not important.  What is important is the changes this brought to my life.  I have come to look at stuttering as my gift – because it was the way I started to accept myself just as I am.  It sure didn’t come wrapped in shiny paper with a big red bow.  Stuttering came wrapped in many layers of plain brown wrapping, and the love and support that CAPs and the CSA gave me, and continues to give me, has encouraged me to peel away the layers.

Once you become involved with one stuttering self-help group, there’s an automatic acceptance into any other group around the world.  The people I’ve met are friends for life. I can’t help smiling when I think of the conferences in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver – so many stories of people overcoming their fears, their judgments against themselves, and finally realizing that it is okay to stutter, no matter who they are talking with.  And as I’m writing these words, I’m realizing this is my story too.  So, I say “thank you” in deep gratitude for this organization, and the changes it has brought to mem my family, and so many others. 

Mary Wood lives in Brampton, Ontario. She is currently on the organizing team for the 2016 CSA Conference. You can see an interview with Mary by former CSA media coordinator Daniele Rossi here.

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