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Award winning actor, Colin Firth and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ed Balls have lent their support to Action for Stammering’s (ASC) latest appeal to help children in the UK who have a stammer.
The ‘Unlock a Child’s Voice’ appeal is asking for support in the form of sponsors and donations to fund training for specialist language and speech therapy to support all the children in the UK with a speech problem or stammer.
Unlock a Child’s Voice, will run for three years and the charity hopes to raise more than £1.5 million to help change and improve the lives of children across the UK.
Actor and vice president for the charity, Colin Firth, said: “The King’s Speech taught me not only the cruelty of having a stammer but also the life-changing benefits specialist therapy can bring. Just as Lionel Logue unleashed the passion of a king, so too Action for Stammering Children is unlocking the potential of thousands of children in the UK every year.
“I hope everyone will get behind this appeal, which will make a genuine difference to children up and down the country, all of whom deserve to speak freely and live their life to the full.”
Stammering can impair, emotional, social and educational development in children with as many as 150,000 children in the UK experiencing a stammer.
ASC has raised £1 million to research into stammering and speech difficulties in the last 10 years and supported more than 3,000 children during 2014.
The appeal has been launched following the release of research to raise awareness of the importance of language and speech therapy support for children.
Supporter and stammer sufferer, Shadow Chancellor of Exchequer, Ed Balls has raised more than £90,000 for ASC. He said: “For the last three years I’ve run the London Marathon to raise money for ASC, raising over £90,000. As the general election approaches I’m taking a fallow year, but am pleased to be continuing my support for ASC and the children and families the organisation helps by backing the launch of this campaign. “As someone who had help and support in dealing with my own stammer, I share ASC’s aim of making sure every child gets the chance to learn to cope with theirs, and for that perceived barrier to be removed so they can achieve their full potential with confidence.”
ASC recommends a one year initiative run by the Michael Palin Centre (MPC), where parents and children can attend a two-week intensive session with the opportunity to attend follow-up sessions throughout the year. The initiative uses The Parent Rating Scale (Palin PRS) to measure changes in the parents and children.
Information collected from the programme over a five-year period between 2008–2013, analysing 10 courses and almost 80 children revealed a ‘significant reduction’ in the impact that stammering and the severity had on the children in the study.
Parents who participated in the course spoke of their children having more confidence, talking more frequently and feeling less frustrated with their stammers. Meanwhile parents felt less concerned for the future of their child and less anxious about the impact on their family.
Newly-appointed chief executive of Action for Stammering Children, Balshen Izzet, added: “I am honoured and excited that Colin and Ed are backing this appeal. By increasing the training of therapists, the delivery of charitably-funded clinical services and vital research into the impact of therapy, our small charity can make a big difference to the lives and opportunities of all children who stammer.”
The findings of the research highlight the importance of language and speech therapy for children, while early specialist intervention can make a difference between children speaking and interacting with their classmates and not speaking at all.