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Honolulu teen starts support group for other kids who stutter
HONOLULU (KHON) — Honolulu teenager Raphael Stark, 15, has one thing in common with President Joe Biden, Family Feud game show host Steve Harvey and actor Samuel L. Jackson.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve had a stutter or stutter,” the homeschooled teenager shared.
“When I was younger, sometimes it came and went. When I hit my teens, it just stayed. Sometimes I felt lonely like no one understood me. Sometimes I got bullied or made fun of,” Raphael continued.
Raphael’s mother said his journey began when he was a young child.
“We noticed that he had trouble getting the words out. I recognized him right away. I grew up stuttering,” said Georgine Stark. “For me, it gradually improved. To know that he was able to thrive despite his speech impediment? As a mom, it eased my feelings.
The teenager said he had been researching support groups on the islands, hoping to find a place to talk with other teenagers who stutter.
“I found out there weren’t any in Hawaii. So I thought, why not make my own?” Raphael said.
As a result, CATS: Caring for Hawaiian teenagers who stutter was born.
“I’m incredibly proud of him. I’ve always seen him as my little brother, but he’s not so little anymore. He’s a strong person inside and out,” said Sophia Stark, Raphael’s sister.
The first meeting of the Raphaël support group will take place on Sunday, March 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Ala Moana Beach Park. Participants can register here.
It’s also launching CHATS: a free 6-week series starting Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m.
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“To any teenagers who are too scared or think they won’t fit in, know that you are not alone. There are a lot of teenagers who stutter too. Me included. We just want to share their story and their struggles and how they overcame their stutter. I hope my support group can also help them move forward,” Raphael said.