Chatham teen named a 2012 TSA Youth Ambassador

Each year, the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) selects about 125 teenagers from around the country — both with and without TS — to become youth ambassadors for the disease. This year, one of New Jersey’s representatives is from Chatham.

Sarah Ethridge, 14, will travel to Washington, D.C. on April 18 and 19 to go through TSA’s Youth Ambassador Training Program. The Chatham High School student submitted an application and essay about her motivation, and is very excited to be a part of the program that produced one of this blog’s regular contributors, Emily Fleischman, in 2010.

Once she completes her training, Ethridge will return to New Jersey and visit classes, schools and clubs to teach other local children about TS and encourage tolerance and sensitivity to the syndrome.

April will be a busy month for Ethridge, who will take part as a singer in the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome’s (NJCTS) first annual statewide Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day with the Somerset Patriots Baseball Club on Sunday, April 29, at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater.

Prior to that, Ethridge will play a large role in NJCTS’ patient-centered training presentation Monday, April 9, at Morristown Memorial Hospital. This will be NJCTS’ first patient-centered training event of 2012. The last was in October at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick.

“This is a huge honor and formidable task for anyone, much less a teenager living with TS,” said Sarah’s mother, Carole Ethridge, who also will participate in the training.

Students both with and without TS are selected for the training every year. Afterward, they meet with politicians — some of whom are Senators and Congressman, perhaps including those who are co-sponsors for the pending federal Tourette Syndrome legislation (bill H.R 3760) — appear in the media and assist with fundraising and awareness raising campaigns.

The goal of the program, according to founder Jennifer Zwilling, 22, is “to educate children all over the country about TS, a widely misunderstood disorder. We are following the motto ‘Think globally, act locally.’ ”

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