Sanchez to Work With Youth Who Stutter

Sanchez to Work With Youth Who Stutter

David SanchezGrowing up, David Sanchez didn’t talk about his stutter with anyone, not even his parents. Stuttering made him anxious and self-conscious. He saw it as a problem that needed fixing.

But after his freshman year at Northwestern University, Sanchez spent nine months backpacking alone around the U.S. The journey challenged Sanchez to talk to strangers—taking him out of his comfort zone—and stirred up something larger: a desire to live more openly with his stutter.

“I was still stuttering when I came back, and I was still anxious; I hadn’t met my goals,” Sanchez said. “But for the first time, I wasn’t willing to keep it all inside.”

The 23-year-old Sanchez, on track to get his degree in learning and organizational change in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), is now an integral part of the community and is building much-needed support for children.

In addition to working as programming director for The Stuttering Association for the Young’s (SAY) Camp SAY, a New York-based summer camp for kids and teens who stutter, Sanchez also will be active locally, providing children with the type of role models he never had.

“There is virtually nothing in terms of support for kids in Chicago,” said speech-language pathologist Katie Gore, who runs a support group for adults and worked with Sanchez during his SESP practicum. “If I could have custom-ordered him, he could not have been a better fit. He really can connect and relate to kids.”

In 2014, after Sanchez returned to Northwestern from his travels, he worked as a counselor and basketball coach for preteen boys at Camp SAY, a summer that changed his life.

“Training at Camp SAY was an emotional roller coaster when it came to stuttering,” Sanchez said. “But when the kids came, it was amazing how little I talked to them about stuttering. That’s the power of camp. Being able to be cool with who you are and where you are.”

In Chicago, Sanchez has organized outings with children who stutter. So far, the group ice skated in Millennium Park, cheered on the Chicago White Sox, and lost themselves in a corn maze.

After the corn maze event, a 9-year-old girl sent her mom a text. “I wanted him to stutter more, and it made me feel proud to stutter,” she wrote.

The girl’s words melted Sanchez’s heart and affirmed the direction his life has taken. “I hope it will be the first of many things that blow her mind,” Sanchez said. “That’s what excites me.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 5/30/17