We were honored to be connected with 11-year old Sian Williams, and her mother, Azelene Williams, founders of Kidzucate, a nonprofit organization based in Perth, Australia, aiming to empower young people with the knowledge and awareness to identify child and youth related issues and take appropriate action towards their own and other children’s safety and wellbeing.
In 2014, at 6 years of age, Sian Williams founded Kidzucate. Also known as “The Kidzucate Kid”, Sian felt inspired to start Kidzucate when she suffered bullying at school because of her stutter. Sian refused to become another statistic of bullying and found a fun, kid-friendly solution to her problem.
Kidzucate kicked off with Sian using YouTube to present her educational videos, teaching kids how to be better kids. Sian’s vision was to not just talk about bullying, but to mentor children her age, as she believed kids learn better through kids. When Sian is inspired, she speaks out through her YouTube videos and gives tips and advice on things that have happened in her and her friends’ lives. Sian’s initiative has a huge impact on other children. They can relate to the issues raised by Sian and respond positively towards her work and mission.
Sian also inspires adults, receiving more and more acknowledgment and support from diverse media outlets and recognition through awards both nationally and internationally. Check out our conversation below!
National Stuttering Association: Tell us a little about yourself and Kidzucate. Why did you start this organization, and what are your goals going forward?
Sian Williams: I started Kidzucate because I used to stutter a lot. (I still do.) Other kids tried to tease and bully me because they thought that my voice was funny and my words didn’t come out the way it was supposed to. I decided to be strong and stand up to them. I know exactly how it feels to be teased and I didn’t want other younger or older kids to feel the same way as I did. I thought kids should learn how to stand up for themselves. My goals for the future are to go out to the wider communities and get the message out further into the world. We would also want to see the Kidzucate Take-A-Stand Healthy Behaviour Development Programs to be taught in more schools over the world!
NSA: How has stuttering impacted your life?
Sian: I used to be a shy person and scared to talk to my friends. I used to go to my bed and cry and prayed to God to take my voice away! I didn’t want to talk anymore! Now, I am very confident and I love talking in front of people. Stuttering has made me realise that it was ok to be different. It also taught me to take the little things in life and to treasure every moment!
NSA: It sounds like you have already accomplished quite a bit at a very young age! What inspires you to share your story with others?
Sian: My mom would definitely be one of my greatest inspirations. She is a counselor and I have learnt so much from her and how to stand up for myself. She is a huge role model and I love her so much. Secondly, my dad! He is actually the one who made up the name ‘Kidzucate’! If it wasn’t for him, we probably wouldn’t be here right now talking about Kidzucate. These two people have done so much for me in my life and helped me to get my message out!
NSA: Throughout your experiences with stuttering, have you used any coping mechanisms that others might find useful?
Sian: What really helps for me is when I slow down, breathe and pause. As I speak I know on what words I will stutter sometimes just making a slight sound e.g. Mmmm or Aaaa before I say the world will pull my vocal cords together and this will help to bring out the word more fluent. For instance, when I say: “Your hair looks beautiful” and I know I will stutter on beautiful, I’ll say, “Your hair looks Mmmmm beautiful” I don’t make it obvious but just slightly as if it sounds like I am pausing to think.
NSA: What advice could you give to others who stutter?
Sian: Stuttering is very complex and it’s not easy for anyone to deal with it. Never stop believing in yourself! You are in control of your life but remember not to put too much pressure on yourself. Don’t worry if you work hard on your speech but you still slip up, it’s not a competition you follow your own pace and ways that works for you. Remember to practice your speech regularly and don’t rush the process. You are also never too young or too old to make a difference in the world!
Many thanks to Sian and Azelene for their time and work in the community, and also to Dr. Scott Yaruss with Stuttering Therapy Resources, Inc. for connecting us with them. Truly a kid to watch out for!