Hi, my name is Daniella, and I am 13 years old. I am in 8th grade and have been stuttering since 5th grade.Picture this: that really annoying kid who would raise her hand every time the teacher asked a question. You know the one; the little know-it-all who can be super annoying sometimes, that was me. I was the one who loved to act, sing, perform and, quite frankly, hear myself talk. I participated in my local theater productions, talent shows, enjoyed oral presentations, the list goes on. I had so much to say and contribute. And all of a sudden, my world became silent.The first half of my poem, “My Fight,” is basically what my life was like when I wrote the poem. I felt scared; I felt alone. I felt like I couldn’t admit my stutter to anyone. I couldn’t admit that I didn’t like something about myself; that I wasn’t the perfect person everyone believed me to be. I needed a self-awakening; something to open my eyes to a very real part of my life. And then, like an angel delivering a message sent from heaven, my Language Arts teacher gave my class an assignment to write a poem about a part of you that no one knows about. That spark led to a fire, and here I am now writing to you, maybe creating a spark in you.This was the first time I had ever written about my stutter. The first time I had put this part of my life down on paper. The writing process was exhilarating, it felt so good to finally open up, even if only to a piece of blank paper. The words easily flowed from my mind through my pencil and into the poem. The relief of finally talking about my stutter was overwhelming. I broke down in tears. I used to hate my stutter but when I got to the climax in the poem I hoped that I could replicate that turning point in my actual life. But the transformation was easier said than done, and that’s where AIS came into my life.One of the best things my mom has ever done, except for, you know giving me life, was search, “best teen intensive for children who stutter.” In this moment, my life was altered. So, sure enough, some time later, I headed off to the city. There, I would later learn that this wasn’t just a camp for not stuttering, but rather accepting it as a part of me, something to be proud of, something that made me special. The AIS philosophy was so different from anything I had ever heard. Actually, stuttering with confidence was something that never even crossed my mind. Before AIS, I chose hiding in a bubble instead of showing a side of me that no one else knew about. And, while I’m still working on it, AIS brought me that much closer to winning My Fight.
Who am IWho here knowsIf I hide in the depthsOf sulking shadowsWho am IWho will ever careIf I let the monsters of deepKeep giving me a scareWho will ever know meWho will even tryIf all I do is hideWhat will I decideWhen my time comes to fightTo fightTo fightTo fightWill it come tomorrow?Will it come tonight?When will I muster up the courageTo do what’s rightWhen will I be ableTo take off the labelsThat haunt me every nightThat make every day a frightThat tire me relentlesslyThat hold me backThat suppress my fightMy fightMy fightMy fightMy efforts to see the lightMy struggle to end the nightMy growing desireTo light a fireTo make it burn oh so brightNo one can put out my fireNo one can stop my stormMy power will rage and flameEach dusk and every mornNo fear, fake friend or foe can hold me downNo one can steal my glorious crownFor I am the queen of myselfThe ruler of my mindThe strength of a thousand chains and ropesCould never bind my hopesNo bully can take this away from meNo matter how hard they tryEach falsehood, deceit and lieCan’t damage my prideOr cause me to cryFor someone can try to build a roofBut they can never erase the skySo who am I?I am someone to watch forSomeone who will never give upMy hard work and determinationTrumps anyone’s good luckI will put my blood, sweat and tearsSo that in my future yearsI will speak with a voiceSo strong and steadyThat you won’t believe your ears--The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY and Atlanta, GA, and services are also available Online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.