YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
Youth Advocate program: The NJCTS Youth Advocate Program trains young adults to lead presentations to students and community groups about Tourette Syndrome and associated disorders. Youth Advocates are 13- to 18-years-old and either have a diagnosis of TS or live with a sibling or family member with TS. These presentations reach thousands of youth in schools throughout New Jersey, are age-appropriate and tailored to fit the needs of the group, provide a strong anti-bullying message, and promote acceptance. NJCTS Youth Advocates have conducted more than 250 presentations, raising awareness and increasing sensitivity and understanding of this often-misunderstood disorder.
NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy: Launched in 2014, the Academy is a four-day intensive program for teens entering sophomore year through one year post-high school who have been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. The Academy provides a positive, respectful, safe, and accepting environment centering on empowerment, self-leadership, building advocacy skills, and resilience. Participants receive a toolkit of skills for living life as an individual with Tourette Syndrome allowing them to educate others, be a mentor, an advocate, and a role model. The Academy was created in partnership with soccer superstar, TS advocate, and New Jersey native, Tim Howard, and takes place in a state-of-the art facility on Rutgers University’s Busch Campus. Teens living with TS have the unique opportunity to interact with doctors, psychologists, coaches, and experts in the field to learn more about their diagnosis.
Mentoring programs for young adults: NJCTS recruits teens and young adults to serve as peer mentors at various events throughout the year. Mentors have the opportunity to engage with younger kids and newly diagnosed families at the Family Retreat Weekend, Leadership Academy, Youth Advocate trainings, and at community outreach events.
Medical Education: NJCTS works with hospitals throughout New Jersey to present grand rounds and Patient-Centered Medical Education (PCME) workshop trainings for doctors, nurses, and other health-care providers. PCME sessions are presented to residents in pediatrics, neurology, and family practice by a teenager or young adult with Tourette Syndrome, along with their parents. The presenters describe their experience with TS at school, at home, and in the community, and focus on initial diagnosis, quality of life, and encounters with physicians and the health-care system. The goal of this medical education is to help physicians enhance their understanding of the perspectives, stresses, and needs of patients with neurological disorders and their families and to improve interpersonal and communication skill in patient encounters.
Youth Scholarship: Since 2004, NJCTS has awarded more than 200 scholarships to graduating New Jersey high school seniors in public or private school who have been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and will be attending a college, university, or trade school in the fall after their graduation from high school. Winners are selected based upon academic achievement, community involvement, and accomplishments as an individual living with this challenging and complex neurological disorder.
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