about us » founder's message
It is with deep joy that I welcome you to the Our Time website.
I have stuttered since I was five years old and for most of my life I've let stuttering rule me. I was so afraid of being laughed at, mocked, or confronted about my stuttering, I spent all my energy trying to avoid a block. Most of the time that meant not saying what I wanted to say, not speaking when I wanted to speak.
I grew up feeling trapped, alone and isolated. I did not meet another person who stuttered until I was twenty-six years old. For a long time I thought of myself, and all people who stutter as freaks.
It is because of the arts that I became okay with who I am. What performing did for me, and is now doing for Our Time company members, is instill confidence. Performing on stage provides a feeling of success that no one can ever take away.
One of the essential elements of Our Time is that the kids create all their own material, scripts, music, and even choreography. There is so much confidence-boosting power in knowing that the audience is not only cheering for you as an actor but also as a playwright. Our Time gives young people the opportunity to see their vision come to life. From the first scribble on the page to the final curtain call. Instead of just casting them in someone else's play, and forcing them to say someone else's words, we are saying to them, "What is important to you? What will you do with your voice?" And Our Time's job is to give these young people the tools and support that will enable them to transform their thoughts and feelings into an artistic creation.
Not only do I hold a firm belief in the power of art to change lives and liberate voices, I believe that given an environment of listening, understanding, acceptance, and unconditional love, young people will be confident, empowered, motivated, and compassionate; able to achieve anything they want and surpass all expectations. We provide that environment at Our Time.
By strongly enforcing the tenets of listening, understanding, acceptance and unconditional love, it is incredible to me what a family Our Time has become. In all my years of teaching, I have never seen a group of young people take care of each other the way the Our Time company members do. They treat each other with respect, kindness, and compassion. During one rehearsal, a young lady in the company began to tell us how much she was picked on in school. She got very emotional and began to cry. One by one, her fellow company members told her how they too had been teased, made fun of, or even beat up because of their speech. It was beautiful to see how they took a fragile situation and turned it into a series of humorous and triumphant stories. In this vein, week after week, year after year, they continue to fill me with pride and inspire me to live out of courage and not fear.
Ultimately, it is everyone - not just those within the stuttering community - who I dream of reaching with the Our Time message of listening and acceptance. Imagine a world where everyone has as much time as they need to speak! Listening is not an easy thing to do. But when you truly listen to someone, you are truly loving that person.
I hope you enjoy looking around this site and I hope you gain a glimpse of the spirit that is Our Time. I thank all of you for your ongoing support and I hope to see you at an Our Time event in the very near future.
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Our Time is thrilled to announce that Meredith Vieira will be hosting our 2014 Annual Benefit Gala on April 28th, 2014! Save the date!
Click here to enroll in Our Time for the Spring! Our programs are now available in New York City, New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester!