NBA athlete Michael Kidd-Gilchrist advocates for speech healthcare

NBA athlete Michael Kidd-Gilchrist visited SDSU to speak about his nonprofit, Change & Impact.

This article was published in The Daily Aztec on November 17, 2021.

NBA athlete Michael Kidd-Gilchrist visited San Diego State to spread awareness about his non-profit Change & Impact Inc. and spoke with the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association last month in October.

Kidd-Gilchrist has played for the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets, Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks. However, he said he has placed his basketball career on hold to focus on his nonprofit.

“Change & Impact (Inc.) started not even a year ago,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “From now, it has probably been six months, if that. I am a person who stutters, obviously. I am very aware of my voice now. I always wanted to serve people and others. It just so happened that I was gifted in other places as well. So, I just want to help kids and adults who stutter. And also realize that they are no different from anybody else.”

The nonprofit is “a stuttering initiative with a mission to improve access to healthcare and expand services and resources for those who stutter,” according to a press release from Change & Impact Inc. The Change & Impact official website will be live in approximately two weeks. 

“Change & Impact” is working for the passing of a healthcare bill that would assist people with communication disorders by receiving more insurance coverage. 

“I am taking leave from ball to focus on this bill and to focus on service and to help people, to help myself, to help SLPs (Speech Language Pathologists), and help the one percent of the population,” Kidd-Gilchrist said.

Educating insurance providers on the efficiency of stuttering therapy and speech therapy coverage is also a major goal of the foundation. 

“My nonprofit is not the average nonprofit you see every day, as far as having a whole bunch of camps and things like that,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “And I am not opposed to the idea but it is kind of time for all the SLPs and individuals who stutter to have help and also get help. So, I am just bridging the gap.”

According to the Change & Impact press release, some of the barriers to speech therapy for stuttering include the lack of a standardized definition of stuttering. This leads to inconsistencies with addressing the medical need for speech therapy and by extension, access to speech therapy. 

“My nonprofit, I believe, opens up access to others to feel free and to feel that we all are equal,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “It doesn’t matter if you are tall, it doesn’t matter if you have autism, it doesn’t matter if you stutter, it doesn’t matter if you have this, it doesn’t matter if you have that. So, my nonprofit is just highlighting our imperfections.”

National Student Speech Language Hearing Association is a major-related club at SDSU which emphasizes students’ career paths which are aimed at speech-pathology and audiology. 

“It was awesome,” President of NSSLHA, Makenna Sine said. “It was definitely a different event than what we usually have. It was really awesome to hear from someone who has actually gone through speech therapy and has come out on the other end. And he is actually in school right now to become a speech therapist so that was something that everyone was really inspired by.”

Sine said Kidd-Gilchrist emphasized the importance of treating patients as people, rather than assignments. He spoke from his firsthand experience with speech therapy. 

“One of the biggest reasons I would say is just representation,” Sine said. “To see actual clients and people who have gone through this experience, and hearing firsthand accounts of how his therapy was, how he grew up, and the things that he would like to see done better. Just kind of seeing the importance of seeing your patients as a person and not just a one-hour therapy session.”

Kidd-Gilchrist said he wants people to see he is the same as the other 70 million

people worldwide who stutter. 

“I am no different from the next person who has a stutter or has any disorder,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I have to pick myself up. I am just here to be one of the others. As hard as that might be to think I want to be but you know I am just here to help.” 

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