Written by Tom
In the Netherlands, we have an initiative called StotterCafé Rotterdam. You might have already guessed that this Dutch name is very close to the English translation: ‘stutter cafe’. This type of cafe is not meant to be a traditional cafe but rather a place where people with a stutter or with an interest in stuttering, can meet others and attend a workshop or presentation. After the program, people stay for a chat and a drink as people do in a ‘normal cafe’. Every location affiliated with this initiative is organizing an evening every 6 to 24 weeks.
Our programs almost always revolve around stuttering. For example, we had therapists who spoke about the fundamentals of their therapy and we invited guests to give exercises inherent to their therapy a try. There were also psychologists who are familiar or specialized in the psychological and emotional effects of stuttering. Other interesting topics were mindfulness and breathing coaches who talk about the possible positive effects of their specialty with regards to stuttering. Experienced experts (read people who stutter or have stuttered) who share their stories, often inspire our guests.
Our guests vary from people who stutter of all ages, their family, and friends, but also therapists and those who are interested in stuttering or the specific topic. We welcome everybody and hope to cater to all by our programs and the enthusiasm to organize StotterCafé Nederland and keep the initiative alive.
This evening, a Dutch newsreader explained how he became a newsreader as a person with a stutter.
The initiative had multiple locations throughout the Netherlands and it did so for many years after the first StotterCafé opened in Rotterdam. All locations worked closely together, coming up and sharing programs, workshops and keynote speakers with each other. For many years StotterCafé Nederland was a great success and all locations could always count on a group of at least 15 guests with every evening. But the enthusiasm and motivation among the organizers diminished over the years. During the last couple of years, StotterCafé Rotterdam proved to have the strongest desire to keep organizing and attract new guests. Till the point (of seemingly no return) that only Rotterdam remained.
The present (resurrection) and future
The desire for StotterCafé Rotterdam grew even stronger after a change in those responsible for the organization about one year ago. Nowadays, two of them and a group of about 10 sub-organizers are responsible for the initiative and are trying hard to inspire others to open or reopen a StotterCafé location in their city. With them, their ideas and renewed energy, an actively updated Facebook page and website, StotteCafé Rotterdam has bloomed due to an edition every 6 to 8 weeks with inspiring workshops, keynote speakers and interesting discussions among our guests. A likely expansion of the initiative is about to happen with the reopening of SotterCafé Tilburg and a possible opening of StotterCafé Utrecht.
Note by Jurjen
I wish to thank Tom for his work as the organizer of StotterCafé Rotterdam, and of course for writing this article! Also, his dear friend and co-organizer Pieter deserves a big thanks. It is very inspiring to see people being passionate to help pws-fellows and other people, by connecting and organizing these kinds of events. I hope that this will be an example for people/countries all around the world.