The Baldwin sisters are no strangers to speaking up on behalf of kids who are a little bit different. The NJCTS Youth Advocates have been leading presentations to schools and community groups in South Jersey for years. Anna and Sarah recently educated more than 100 fifth graders at Camden’s Promise Middle School about Tourette Syndrome (TS)—a misunderstood and misdiagnosed neurological disorder characterized by vocal sounds and motor movements known as tics. This disorder affects 1 in 100 children, including Anna and Sarah.
“I am a big advocate for people with disabilities,” said Anna. “It breaks my heart to see others make fun of people for something they can’t control. I fight ignorance by educating people and showing them the kindness within the individual with whatever disability or issue they may be facing.”
The Baldwins find strength in each other and often present together. They became Youth Advocates in order to help other kids struggling with TS who may not have the same kind of support. School age children with TS are often the targets of bullying.
“It is such an honor to be able to not only spread awareness and acceptance to the kids, but to also give hope to the families affected by TS,” said Sarah.
NJCTS Youth Advocates present in schools, community groups, and hospitals throughout New Jersey about Tourette Syndrome and associated disorders. In addition to providing an overview of the neurological disorder, Youth Advocates promote understanding and tolerance and deliver a strong anti-bullying message.
NJCTS also led an in-service presentation for the 70 teachers and staff at Camden’s Promise Middle School presented by Dr. Lisa Cox, professor of social work at Stockton University and TS advocate. Dr. Cox offered strategies for helping students with TS and associated disorders, such as ADHD, OCD, and anxiety, in the classroom.
Faculty in-service presentations promote a more positive, inclusive, and successful classroom environment for students with these disorders, and are valuable to all faculty regardless of whether a student with TS is present in the classroom.
“As a parent of a child who was diagnosed with TS,” said one teacher in attendance, “I feel this presentation was phenomenal! Especially for those without a prior knowledge of the disorder.”
For more information about Tourette Syndrome and the NJCTS Education Outreach program, contact 908-575-7350 or www.njcts.org.