Stammerer finds her voice on Channel 4 documentary
PUBLISHED: 12:25 25 October 2014 | UPDATED: 17:33 30 October 2019
TV show follows star of hit show Educating Yorkshire, Musharaf Asqhar
A year ago Debbie Rasaki only felt comfortable speaking to children.
But since taking part in a Channel 4 documentary on stammering, the 25-year-old nursery nurse has been making speeches to packed shopping centres.
Debbie, from north London, has spent most of her life trying not to speak through embarrassment and was bullied at school when she stammered in front of her classmates.
She had to endure being hung up on repeatedly when she tried to make what most would consider routine phone calls and even cancelled her birthday party last year as she was too nervous to host a small group of friends.
But when she read the biography of fellow stutterer Katherine Preston, Out With It, she was introduced to the McGuire Programme - which tackles stammering through breathing techniques.
"I researched it and then I joined the British Stammering Association," said Debbie.
"I saw a tweet from them that said there was a documentary being filmed and I applied and got on."
The documentary, Stammer School, was based around five young people with speech impediments learning McGuire's techniques for dealing with their stutters.
It was sparked by the documentary's star, 17-year-old Musharaf Asghar, who shot to fame on another Channel 4 programme Educating Yorkshire - which saw him overcome his stammer using a technique borrowed form Oscar winning film the King's Speech.
Debbie said she was much more comfortable in her skin since appearing on the programme and it had changed her life.
"At school I wouldn't talk because I would stammer - that made me really shy and it was difficult to make friends," she said.
"I was bullied, it wasn't really bad but they would imitate and tease me and stuff.
"I didn't like making phone calls either. I would call up a taxi firm and they would just hang up on me when I couldn't get the words out.
"I'm so much happier and more confident now since the programme. I gave a massive speech to a shopping centre in Croydon - that was amazing, it kind of empowered me.
"I've got so much support since the show. I have people that understand me now."
Debbie said she hoped the show would raise awareness for stammering, and now wears a green wrist band with the words "let's talk about stammering".
"After the documentary a lot of stammerers actually came forward," she said.
"Raising awareness is very important. Stammering is very psychological and it can really effect both your self-esteem and confidence.
"I wouldn't want to see anyone else go through what I did growing up."
You can view a clip of Debbie's story at channel4.com/programmes/stammer-school-musharaf-finds-his-voice.