Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 8: Stuttering as a Lifeguard and Swimming Teacher

Growing up people always said to me that I could never be a teacher because of my stutter. I never understood this and I always questioned them saying why would my stutter hold me back? They never had a valid point to make in their answers and it led me to challenge their assumptions. Roll on to now and I have been a Lifeguard and Swimming Teacher for nearly 3 years.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the eighth blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media ad is going to focus on how my stutter has affected me in my jobs as a Lifeguard and a Swimming Teacher. I am the type of person who likes to surpass people expectations. As mentioned above when I was younger people always told me that I couldn’t be a teacher due to my stutter when in reality the only thing holding me back from teaching was myself. Of course, my stutter can make the job harder in some cases but that doesn’t affect my ability as a teacher. That is one of the main points of this blog, don’t let a stutter hold you back in life. A stutter doesn’t stop you from doing things, however, it does alter your journey.

I completed my first lifeguarding course back in June 2016 and got a job as a Lifeguard in my local Swimming Pool around three months after. My position in work is exactly the same as any of the other lifeguards there, my stutter doesn’t change my job, however, it does change the way that I go about some things. In a job such as lifeguarding, there are obviously going to be some minor changes in how each lifeguard does things.

photo of red and white Vodafone inflatable floater

It can be quite hard to explain how stuttering has changed my job as most of the changes that I have discovered are all usually quite small.  The major changes that I find are when it comes to talking to members of the public or other members of staff. I’ve been in my job for around three years now and I love learning new roles like how to work reception and how to teach in different ways. I started to notice the first major changes in my job when I was covering behind reception for a few minutes when I was still new at the pool.

Most of the customers in the pool recognised that I had a stutter if I started stuttering when serving them and they were really patient and polite about it, however, there were some customers who didn’t have the same attitude towards my stutter. It was very rare that a customer was ever rude to me behind the desk however like you have in any job there were one or two. There was one person who came to the desk and because I got stuck stuttering on a few words she started saying phrases like “spit it out” or “hurry up and get on with it”. After they said those phrases I didn’t really know how to react. As I was in work I had to stay professional but I just couldn’t comprehend why this customer was being so rude. Like I said previously nearly all of the customers coming to the pool were great but one or two of them really make you think.

The second major change is when it comes to communicating with members of the public on poolside. As you would expect in our jobs as lifeguards we do have to enforce the pool rules if members of the public are not abiding by them. In some cases when I would talk to them I would start stuttering. Most of the customers again were more than patient with me but it started to make me feel nervous to speak at times.

To my knowledge see there are few if any policies in workplaces when it comes to stuttering. how I see it is that as there is such a massive focus being aimed at mental health and stress management nowadays that we should try and bring some other subjects like stuttering back into focus as well. Stuttering and stress/ mental health do go hand in hand in some cases. Stuttering can lead to massive self-esteem and self-confidence issues in the world of work. The question that I like to ask is why hasn’t anything really been done to help people with a stutter in the world of work?

Being a Swimming teacher can be one of the most rewarding jobs going in my eyes. I love my job as a Swimming Teacher as I get to see swimmers progress from being scared to go into the water to doing 100 meter swims without stopping. Watching people progress through the different levels/stages of swimming is truly a great thing to watch and it is the reason why I used to love teaching so much.

In my experience of teaching, my stutter has never limited my ability to do my job. As you can expect I do sometimes get stuck on the odd word or I may repeat myself a few times but it doesn’t affect my ability as a teacher. When teaching younger children you automatically think that they will notice you stuttering and try and mimic it but out of the few hundred that I taught, I can only remember one or two doing it. Even those one or two kids weren’t even mimicking it maliciously, they just didn’t understand what a stutter was at that point.

One of the only changes that I noticed as a teacher with a stutter was how some of the parents would act to my teaching. There have been a few cases over the past three years where a parent has asked me if I should be allowed to teach as I have a stutter. This is where the main problems with stuttering come into play. Like I mentioned in a previous blog the only thing that stops you when you have a stutter is yourself and to a degree the people surrounding you. There is such an ingrown stigma in modern society about mental health and topics like stuttering that at times it feels like you are fighting a losing battle.

The fact that I stutter does not change my ability to teach. It may alter the way that I do some things but overall the outcome is the same. When I started to plan this blog I was thinking of all the problems that I have faced in my job and the realisation hit me. The problems that I have faced in my job are down to a lack of understanding of what a stutter is from a third party. I could list all of the issues that I have faced teaching and lifeguarding with a stutter but they all come down to this same link.

Most people do not think about the effect a stutter has on people because it is so rarely brought up in the media and in conversations. Stuttering, in my opinion, doesn’t get the credit it deserves as living with a stutter can be really tough. If you spend just 5-10 minutes talking to a person who has a stutter about their stutter it would start to make more sense. The stigma around a stutter can be linked in some way to the stigma in mental health. They both stem from a lack of understanding and just as mental health is changing now the focus has been put on it, stuttering could do with the same focus.

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog. I hope you all enjoy the blog and have a great day! Let me know what you think of it in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Thanks for reading,

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£1.00

James

 

 

 

 

 

 

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