My experience of attending “Talking Out” – Zain Ghani

On Monday 30th May, I attended the ASC “Talking Out” residential at Bewerley Park Centre for Outdoor Education in Harrogate. This residential provides a safe space to normalise stammering for children and young people and provide opportunities for individuals to stretch out of their comfort zone through taking part in outdoor activities. I have previously attended this residential pre-covid to support with Talking Out sessions, join in with outdoor activities, and provide encouragement and support for the young people to challenge themselves. I was very excited to be back and supporting such an incredible opportunity for these young people.

A photo taken by Zain near the Talking Out residential.

The day began with a fully cooked breakfast, vital energy needed for the day ahead. Two instructors from the centre, Piers and Kate delivered a detailed briefing on what everyone needed for the day’s activity – Canoeing! Fast track a few hours and everyone is changed, well equipped with safety gear, and we arrive at the destination. Everyone supported with taking the canoe boats off the trailer and getting them onto the water. As you can imagine, this was thirsty work, so we decided to have lunch and hydrate before starting our voyage. For some, this was their first time in a canoe, and for others it was like riding a bike. We began by venturing through the amazon jungle, seeing wild animals and tropical birds, and observing the bewildering atmosphere of this space had to offer (casually rowing through local rivers in Harrogate, but stay with me!). Halfway through our journey, everyone was tasked to find a stone, a leaf, a feather, and a mystery item whilst on water. The group scattered and the race began! After a short while, a canoe with 3 young comrades won and they were awarded with the prize of victory, worldly status and recognition (a less than enthusiastic applause by the group). After a few hours on water, we reached our destination, and supported with bringing the canoes off water, loaded the trailer and made our way back to the centre.

We arrived just in time for tea and this meal went down a treat! After everyone showered and got changed, we gathered for the evenings “Talking Out” session which focussed on activity called Speaking Circle – An activity where individuals stand in front of everyone on their own, maintain eye contact for 30 seconds with the audience and then speak about their favourite topic for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Prior to the activity starting, I was nominated to have a dance off with one of the young people following my experience of being a street dancer. This enlightened the group and encouraged others to get involved, it desensitized any nervous feelings and a nice light-hearted game before beginning the Speaking Circles. In the end, a dance battle occurred between 2 groups of 3 with both groups dancing to a popular TikTok song and dance routine “My money don’t jiggle jiggle..”. The activity was ready to begin, and Teresa and Ben explained what Speaking Circles was and what everyone was going to do. I volunteered myself to start things off and I chose to share my journey with me living with a stammer. A chance for me to share my lived experience with everyone and provide encouragement to everyone to pursue their goals and to not let their stammer hold them back. After I finished, this got the ball rolling and others in the group quickly volunteered to take their turn.

A drawing of Zain by one of the attendees.
“great stache”

On reflection, being able to take part and support the “Talking Out” residential is an honour and intrinsically rewarding for me. Seeing the difference in confidence, outlook, and perception of stammering by the young people and seeing them strive for stretching out of their comfort zone is immeasurable. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in supporting this residential and I look forward to supporting many more to come!”

By Zain Ghani, ASC Northern Youth Panel Lead

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