Self Help Group Update: The Ottawa Association of People who Stutter

ottawa logo

Our self help group continues to grow and expand as we now have a regular meeting location in a community centre in the west end of the city. Lakeside Gardens Centre is beautifully located alongside Britannia Beach and at times it’s hard to concentrate on our fluency practise with the happy sounds of families emanating from close by. Certainly having an attractive accessible meeting space has been an impetus to rejuvenating our group.

We continue to meet twice a month on the first and third Wednesday and members take turns chairing the meeting. Although attendance at our meeting varies we have a good solid core group that has continued to build over the past year.

The Marie Poulos Bursary Fund

Marie Poulos Marie Poulos

Besides our regular meetings our group is involved in various activities such as raising awareness about stuttering as well as fundraising for the Marie Poulos Bursary Fund. This fund enables qualified individuals to take intensive and semi-intensive therapy programs at the Stuttering Treatment Clinic located in the Ottawa Rehab Centre.

The fund is named in honour of Marie Poulos who as many of you may know worked at the Clinic from 1979 until she was tragically killed in an accident in 1991.  In mid May in honour of Marie OAPWS held a memorial on the grounds of the Rehab Centre around the tree that was planted in her name in 1992. People shared their memories of this wonderful speech pathologist who changed the lives of so many. And equally important many agreed was her unstinting support of the Ottawa self-help group that at the time boasted over 30 members and was responsible for hosting the 2nd CSA conference.

The memorial was not only a wonderful opportunity to remind us in whose honour we raise money but also a chance to connect with old friends we haven’t seen in many years.

Ottawa Race Weekend and Running For A Reason

ottawa group race Members of the Ottawa group

The timing of the memorial was also fitting because two weeks later at the end of May many OAPWS members participated in Ottawa’s annual Race Weekend May.  The Stuttering Treatment Clinic had its own team with Kara Beck Coordinator of the Clinic serving as our captain.

Members of the team as well as friends and families were among the 40,000 individuals who took part in various race events over the May 24-26th weekend. The oldest participant was 63 who managed to run the 5K without having a heart attack (no name mentioned) while others entered various events especially the Family 2K. Among the 2K enthusiasts was our youngest team member Connor who is only 2 & ½.

We are grateful to the many friends and family members who sponsored us and helped us raise over $3500 for the bursary fund. Next year we hope to do even better by obtaining business and corporate sponsors and encouraging more members and friends to join the team in ‘running for a reason.”

We Need to Share our Group Experiences – We Want to Hear From You!

Our website continues to help us publicize our group as we encourage members as well as all site visitors to post stories and comments. It is another way for potential new member to explore our group and consider whether or not it is something they might want to join.

OAPWS wants to hear not only from individuals but also from other self-help groups across Canada. Contact us either by our website or directly to share your group’s activities, your ideas and your challenges. We have much to learn from one another whether like OAPWS you are an old group that has been recently resurrected and rejuvenated, a new group just getting off the ground or a long established group such as the one in Toronto.

How are your meetings run? Who chairs them? Do you encourage individuals who have not taken any formal speech therapy to join? Do you sometimes invite friends or family members to attend a meeting? OAPWS did this in April and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk about openness.

Do your members attend just for fluency practise or do they participate in other activities? For example, OAPWS is holding a garage sale at the end of June to raise money for our group’s expenses: to cover rental fees, printing costs etc. But we appreciate that some members do not have the time or the inclination to actively participate in such an event and we accept this as an element of group dynamics. What has been your experience in meeting the many divergent needs and interests of your members?

We want to hear from you. Let us help each other grow.

And while OAPWS is taking a break for the summer our bi-monthly meetings will resume in September. So if you are in Ottawa on the lst or 3rd Wednesday of the month why not drop by.