'They have truly changed our lives': Elks, ISTAR help give young stutterer his confidence back

Collin Tanner was four years old when his family became worried about his speech. But then they found ISTAR.

Amanda McCarthy - 12 March 2019

When Collin Tanner was four years old, he would often have to repeat himself. Not because no one was listening, but because he couldn't control it.

"We noticed a lot of repeating, especially at the end of words," explained Collin's mom, Jane Tanner. "His stuttering got worse as he got older, and it was so hard to see him struggle to communicate. We became concerned when we realized this was not something he was going to grow out of."

Jane found out about the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR) through a friend of an extended family member, and shortly after, his grandparents took him to be assessed.

"Collin attended ISTAR twice-first, in August 2017 and then again in March 2018," said Jane. "He absolutely loved his time at ISTAR. Everyone there was wonderful, and it was great for him to meet some other kids who have similar challenges."

During his time at ISTAR, Collin received treatment for his stutter both through individual therapy with an ISTAR clinician and through the children's camp. The Elks provided the funding for ISTAR and its world-renowned treatment program.

"The Elks helped us immensely through Collin's stuttering journey, by providing funds for Collin to attend refresher camp and to help with travel expenses from Nanaimo, BC to Edmonton, AB."

When asked whether he feels more confident after attending ISTAR, Collin says "Yes, a lot more!"

While his stutter is still noticeable, and he has smooth days and bumpy days, overall his speech is much better and he can manage it well on the days that are bumpier or more stressful.

"We would like to add how incredibly grateful we are to the Elks to the wonderful people at ISTAR. They have truly changed our lives. For so long, we felt helpless and we struggled to help Collin manage his stutter. As soon as we stepped foot in to ISTAR we felt supported and we were able to learn so much."

Jane was able to attend all sessions with Collin so she could learn how to help him continue his speech work at home.

"Collin will now be able to enter his pre-teen years with the tools he needs to manage his stutter. We have seen so much improvement-he is so confident and has so much to say! Without the financial support from the Elks, we would not have been able to achieve this success!"

To show how much the Elks and their donation mean to him, Collin, with the help of his grandfather, decided to write a poem in their honour:

There are volunteers working in our fair town,
Who help those in need when life gets them down.
They seldom fuss or show a frown,
A happier, helpful team just can't be found.

Their members do what they will to make things right,
Speech improvement, hearing aids or improving our sight.
Maximum effort is given with all their might,
To lessen the load for the disable so life's an easier fight.

Whether young or old; whatever the need,
Helping the food bank and community, taking the lead.
Planting ideas, sowing the future's seeds,
Serving our communities, so many needs to feed.

Helping with wheelchairs and disability care,
Donations for the needy to make life a little more fair.
Helmets for biking or skating so our brains aren't bare,
Special meals and events given with loving flair.

The Elks help our students and seniors, the young and the old,
Food for the hungry, clothes for the cold.
When help's needed for a fund-raising auction, consider it sold,
With energy, and commitment; They're brave, kind, and bold.

Our unspoken heroes, each and every day,
Working tirelessly for others to improve our work and play.
Helping community members in need to smooth out their way.
Thank you kind Elks; in our hearts you'll always stay.