Words by Smiley Team
The NBA playoffs are ongoing, and although sidelined by injury, Gary Payton II is supporting his team – the Golden State Warriors – during their conference semi-finals.
Much of his focus is on the basketball court, but he also makes time for other things – like his advocacy for people with dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes things like reading much more difficult for those that should otherwise be able to do it. “People with dyslexia have trouble matching the letters they see on the page with the sounds those letters and combinations of letters make,” says The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.
According to Yale, around 20% of Americans deal with dyslexia, and Payton II is one of them. Inspired by his own struggles with the disorder he’s decided to help, providing support to organizations like Decoding Dyslexia.
“I was afraid to read in public and didn’t know how to ask for help,” Payton II said at a Read to Achieve Rally. “I was embarrassed that I didn’t know how to read at the level of my other classmates. It was hard until we identified (dyslexia) and got help.”
Decoding Dyslexia is a non-profit that began in 2011 when “twelve New Jersey parents took the same train ride home from a learning disabilities luncheon in New York City and discovered they all had the same story of struggles to get services for their children in the public school system".
Since then, the organization has spread across all 50 states and helps push legislation to support those struggling with dyslexia.
Decoding Dyslexia in California, where Gary Payton II provides his support, is drumming up support for California Senate Bill 237. SB 237 proposes a universal early screening for dyslexia so kids that may have the disorder can get the support they need earlier in life.
“Early identification as proposed in SB 237 makes intensive early intervention possible, sparing children years of struggle that has lasting academic, social, and emotional impacts,” Decoding Dyslexia says on their site.
Beyond his spoken support, Payton II has also offered tickets to Warriors games throughout the season, as well as the opportunity to spend time with him before the game.
“Listening to an NBA superstar share his struggles with reading and school due to his dyslexia shows our kids that dyslexia does not define you,” Lori DePole, Co-State Director of DDCA, said in a statement. “Gary Payton II is one of only three NBA players that have publicly spoken out about their dyslexia. It is our hope that other athletes with dyslexia will share their story and help raise dyslexia awareness.”
SUPPORT: You can find ways to support Decoding Dyslexia on its website. The link is the California chapter but they have groups throughout the country. If you’re interested look for your local group.