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Blount County author promotes stuttering awareness through the arts

"Find your voice, and say what you want to say," said Vince Vawter, author of "Paperboy."

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — Around 3 million people across the U.S. stutter. It's one of the most common communication disorders in the country. 

An author in Blount County is using art, writing and musical theater to reach young people facing a challenge he worked hard to overcome.

Vince Vawter is the author of "Paperboy." For him, words on paper are easier to trust than words in the air. That's because it takes him just a bit of time to say them.

"You know, there is nothing wrong with stuttering," Vawter said, 

Paperboy is a book about an 11-year-old boy from Memphis who delivers papers and stutters. It follows him on his paper route as he meets people and finds a sense of community.

"And that Paperboy was me. I stuttered. I stuttered horribly," he said. 

He wrote the book after he realized there was no form of art that explained how the mind of a person who stutters works. He also said he wrote it to share the experience that other people like him go through. 

For him, overcoming stuttering is not about fluency but is instead about finding your voice.

"Find your voice and say what you want to say," he said. 

Each page of the book was translated into 17 different languages, including Spanish, Hebrew and Japanese. He said that demonstrates stuttering has no language barrier.

"Parents of young people who have read the book, they say, 'You have kind of taught me what my son or my daughter, what they're going through,'" Vawter said. 

His book has sold around 250,000 copies sold and it's now on the way to a stage in New York City.

There, students at the Manhattan School of Music will bring the story to life, with one message.

"Your stutter should not keep you from being who you are," he said.

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