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SAY, a group that empowers youth who stutter, receives national prize

NEW YORK — It’s hard to tell when she’s singing, but Isabella Negron has trouble getting her words out.

"Just the feeling of singing, just the way that my voice comes out. I just love that feeling of singing, and to share it is just amazing," Negron said.

The 16-year-old from Long Island has a severe stutter that started when she was just 4 years old.

Her mom says it was very challenging for Isabella growing up.

"Difficult with peers, difficult with friends, making friends, keeping friends, speaking in school. She would come home very deflated by her day. Just to know your child has these issues and there’s nothing you can really do to help it," Claudia Negron said.

Until she was introduced to “SAY” – the Stuttering Association for the Young.

SAY empowers and supports young people who stutter. Instead of teaching them skills to avoid it, SAY teaches kids that their stutter is part of who they are.

And what better way to gain that confidence than the performing arts.

"Confident voices is our arts-based program. The performing arts is a great way to express yourself, to really hear what I have to say, no matter how long it takes for me to say it," said the group's executive director, Noah Cornman.

It's a confidence that’s evident in every student we met.

"We do plays and songs and all this we stutter during," said one student, Harry.

"I just love lights and being in front of people, being in front of a crowd," said another student, Keon.

"Normally I implement the singing into most of my acts. It just makes me stand out a little bit more and so I’m not always talking and mess up my lines," said Klanell, a student.

And being honored with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award  will give SAY the exposure it needs to help more kids who struggle with their speech.

"The population of kids that we serve, they're often hiding. We’re happy to have it help us to find that next Isabella or Keon or Klanell who are hiding in the back of the class," said Cornman.

"I just want it to grow, to go global. I wish say could be everywhere for all the kids, for all the people cause it really does change you ," said Isabella's mother, Claudia Negron.