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Kidd-Gilchrist uses personal experience to help those who deal with stuttering

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is best known as an NBA veteran, University of Kentucky men’s basketball champion and No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Charlotte Bobcats.

The NCAA champion, though, wants you to know something else – that he’s a stutterer – and that facilities like the Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center are changing lives through speech therapy. Kidd-Gilchrist has embarked on a national stuttering awareness tour that brought him to the Speech and Hearing Center and Hoops Family Children’s Hospital this week.

The nine-year NBA veteran took tours of the Hoops hospital and the Speech and Hearing Center before taking time to present to faculty and graduate students from the Department of Communication Disorders. The message was simple — to underline the importance of what they do and talk with them how he can continue to help their cause in the state.

“I remember a time when I didn’t want anyone to know about my stutter. When I entered speech therapy at the University of Kentucky, I told my therapist that I didn’t want anyone to know,” he said.  “Today, I see my stutter as a gift that I have embraced, and I want to help others who stutter and those who are getting into the field of speech-language pathology.”

In 2021, Kidd-Gilchrist founded Change & Impact, Inc., a stuttering initiative with a mission to improve access to healthcare and expand services and resources for those who stutter. Since forming Change & Impact, he’s visited more than 50 universities, hospitals, stuttering camps and support groups. He advocates at the federal and state level to raise awareness about the gaps in the healthcare system that exist for those who stutter. Many insurance companies won’t pay for the speech therapy necessary to help those who stutter overcome their issues.

“I felt like it was a slap in the face when I found out that it wasn’t covered by insurance,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “It was free to me at UK, but when I found out that this life-altering service wasn’t covered for most, I knew I had to do something.”

The Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center provides many important speech and hearing services for the Huntington community and West Virginia region, allowing them to meet the requirements for the Certificate of Clinical Competence, awarded by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Speech therapy is offered for children and adults for many speech issues, including stuttering.

Kidd-Gilchrist says he had no one to look up to as a child dealing with stuttering, and now he wants to use his stature to provide others with that role model figure.

“I was blessed with these opportunities, and I need to use them to pay it forward and help those that are dealing with stuttering,” Kidd-Gilchrist said.

Change & Impact was founded in 2021 with a mission to improve access to healthcare and expand services and resources for those who stutter.

“That’s all we want — to be accepted and have someone that understands us,” Kidd-Gilchrist said.