Walk organizer fighting to break the isolation of Tourette Syndrome
Princeton, NJ- To look at the Kowalski family of Plainsboro, it’s apparent that they make each other happy. Tim and Leslie are never far from a smile when they’re surrounded by teen daughters Tess and Paige. They share a bond made stronger through acceptance- a gift they want to share through NJ Walks for TS at Princeton on March 29th.
Tess and Paige have Tourette Syndrome (TS)- a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements or sounds known as tics. Even though they are among the 1 in 100 kids showing symptoms of TS in New Jersey- an estimated prevalence of over 20,000- Tim says the public’s reaction made his family feel alone.
Tim says public outings with his “daughters who exhibited all the classic symptoms” of TS led to “shutting out the world and what others think to help cope with the situation.” To make matters worse, he and Leslie were “overwhelmed with thoughts of being judged as bad parents who can’t control their kids.” The Kowalski’s developed NJ Walks for TS at Princeton to fight the stigma attached to TS. It was eldest daughter Tess’s idea to bring the event to families in Central Jersey.
NJ Walks is a series of 5K walks/family fun runs in the spirit of advocacy and empowerment presented by the Somerville-based New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders, Inc (NJCTS). The program began in Mendham in 2010 and, in 2014, included Princeton. This September a South Jersey walk will take place in Medford Lakes .
“Helping others understand the complexity of Tourette Syndrome and how kids, and adults, suffering from it can’t make it go away or stop, will hopefully make the lives of those affected by this disorder, and their families, so much better,” said Tim.
What children and families living with TS need is the gift of acceptance.
“The easiest way to show your support is by joining us on March 29th,” said NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice, “Being there is like giving a giant hug to our kids and families who are thriving and excelling despite the significant physical and psychological challenges that come with TS.”
The presence of others is deeply felt at this event as Tourette Syndrome impacts Central Jersey in several ways. Aside from the children and adults who have a TS diagnosis, there are the teachers, healthcare professionals, family and friends who care about them.
“NJ Walks for TS at Princeton will fund NJCTS programs focused on reaching out to the community and educating students, doctors, peers and even recognizing exemplary high school students with TS in the form of scholarships,” said Tim “The goals of these programs are to improve earlier diagnosis and treatment, reduce bullying in schools and increase acceptance in society of those with TS.”
To join the Kowalski family, and hundreds more, register at www.njcts.org. Your support- and attendance- puts an end to the isolation and stigma thousands of New Jersey families feel every day.