Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. If you’ve followed professional basketball in recent years, you likely recognize the name. You may even know a bit about his story. He is a professional basketball player who has played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) since 2012 when he was the second draft pick.
What you may not know, however, is that Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist is an individual who stutters. He is in good company.
According to The Stuttering Foundation, “more than 80 million people worldwide stutter, which is about one percent of the population.” There are more than three million individuals in the U.S., alone, who stutter — some of whom are students at Commonwealth Academy.
With stuttering diagnoses being so prominent and widespread across the world, you might think that the services and resources available to individuals who stutter are endless. Unfortunately, as Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist knows firsthand, they are not.
That lack of access inspired him to found Change and Impact, an organization with a mission to improve access to healthcare and expand services and resources for those who stutter, and a vision to change the social stigma of stuttering through awareness, education, and empowerment.
As part of his work with Change and Impact, Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist regularly speaks at schools, colleges, and organizations throughout the country in hopes of fulfilling the organization’s mission. On Monday, January 23, 2023, Commonwealth Academy became one of those schools when Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist visited our community as the first guest speaker in our 25th Anniversary Speaker Series.
He delivered an address that drove home three key messages for students:
Celebrate and embrace your differences — you do not and should not have to conform to be successful or appreciated.
Adversity will always exist, but things can always get better.
Advocate for yourself whenever humanly possible.
As a school that offers life-changing learning experiences and prides itself in embracing, seeing, and supporting students for who they truly are, all three of these themes are in direct alignment with our mission. These themes also resonated with students, as was evidenced by their lines of questioning during Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist’s presentation.
“How do you think your stuttering has positively impacted your life?” asked one student.
“Do you have any advice for pushing through the bad days?” asked another.
Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist shared an incredible amount of advice and answered more questions than he likely expected to (including what his astrological sign is — Libra, in case you’re curious). He even took time to meet with players, managers, and coaches from our Middle School and Varsity basketball teams to discuss the importance of teamwork, holding yourself and your teammates accountable, and the power of being on time.
While Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist’s visit ended promptly at 11:50 a.m., his impact on CA students and the world will live on.
Thank you, Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist, for volunteering your time and making such meaningful connections with our students. A special thank you also goes to Mrs. Aidan Millsapps for recommending Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist as a community speaker.
If you are interested in learning more about Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist, please visit his website. If you are interested in learning more about upcoming guest speakers or our 25th Anniversary Speaker Series, please contact the Office of Communications and Community Engagement.