Speech disorders can be a debilitating problem for students. It inhibits learning, lowers confidence, and makes socialization a challenge for kids. A recent study on the negative impacts on stuttering shows that one out of 100 children will develop a long-term stutter—children with stutters are often subject to bullying, making for hard living and learning conditions.
For author and national speaker, Sherrika Myers, the struggle of stuttering was a harsh reality. Growing up, she developed a stutter. It became the root of discrimination and bullying at school and even at home. “Having a stutter was frustrating and isolating,” admits Sherrikka. “I seldom spoke to people for fear that I would expose my stuttering and get teased.” Sherrikka spent most of her childhood carrying her communication challenges.
The turning point came for Sherrikka sometime in middle school. She was assigned to make the morning announcements on the school’s PA system. When she faced the microphone, she could barely say her name, let alone read the school announcements. From that point in her life, she decided to do something about her stutter.
Growing up in a modest home, Sherrikka’s family didn’t have the resources to send her to speech class or to buy her the proper materials. So she turned instead to reading and reading aloud. Armed only with the sheer determination to make a change, Sherrikka devoted time and energy to improve her speech. She taught herself techniques to work around her stutter and started to develop the way she spoke and communicated.
Today, Sherrikka is a speaker who presents before large crowds. Her most significant feat was appearing on an interview for NBC 41, where Sherrikka spoke on stutter awareness week about the prevalence, problems, and prescriptions for speech problems among kids.
Sherrikka founded Every 1 Voice Matters, a non-profit organization that exists for the sole purpose of providing children with speech disorders with resources to aid with social and communicative barriers amongst children. Sherrikka does this by providing education, community outreach programs, and events that help children learn how to speak and communicate better. The non-profit founder first got inspired to start her initiative when she learned that her grandson had developed a stutter. She helped him improve his speech and was successful at doing so. Today, she does the same for dozens of kids everywhere.
One of Sherrikka’s most effective initiatives was developing a mascot for Every 1 Voice Matters. She named the mascot Lil Herbie and built a storyline around him. A stutterer himself, Herbie was at the receiving end of teasing and bullying. He found a way to improve his speech and now feels empowered to speak confidently. Sherrikka has built a virtual series around Herbie, which children can watch and learn from as a means of building the confidence and drive to keep pursuing improvements to their speech.
Sherrikka also wrote her first children’s book from the Lil Herbie Series book collection called Herbie’s New Home. Sherrikka is on a mission to inspire children all over to better themselves and have the confidence to speak up and raise their voices. She hopes that her story would inspire other children who struggle with stuttering to keep practicing and growing.