Michael Hayden likes serving as a voice for younger kids living with Tourette Syndrome (TS).
He knows, firsthand, the joys and challenges that come with the neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements or sounds known as tics. The Pascack Valley High School junior is a youth advocate, specially trained by the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS) to deliver peer in-service presentations at schools across New Jersey with an emphasis on acceptance and combating stigma.
“When I get the chance to educate students who, most of the time have a classmate with TS, it’s a truly rewarding experience,” said Hayden. “The children with TS always thank me so much and seem happy that their peers finally understand…some of them may be too nervous to [explain their tics] for themselves and it’s easier for a big high schooler to help them out.”
All proceeds from NJ Walks for TS at Bergen, a 5K walk/fun run, will benefit the education outreach programs of NJCTS—which include faculty and peer school in-service workshops and training other Youth Advocates like Hayden. NJ Walks for TS at Bergen will take place Saturday, Nov. 12th at the Overpeck Park Amphitheater in Ridgefield Park.
“We invite the community to join us for the inaugural NJ Walks for TS in Bergen County and join a movement of self-empowerment that begins with the 1 in 100 NJ children living with TS,” said NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice.
As Mike prepares to visit more local schools, he asks for the public’s help in launching what he considers much more than a typical 5K.
“NJ Walks for TS is for those who support fair treatment of all people, a sign of solidarity in which people from all walks of life coming together to show that they support a world in which no one is treated differently for something they cannot control.”
NJ Walks for TS at Bergen
Sat. Nov. 12th
Check-in beings at 8 a.m. Kick-off at 9:15
Register online at www.njcts.org/walk
Rain or Shine
Overpeck Park Amphitheater, 199 Challenger Road, Ridgefield Park
Live music by Good Works Band and Carl Gentry
Silent Auction & 50/50
Fun and games for the whole family
Subs by Jersey Mikes
For information about TS, the education outreach programs of NJCTS, or NJ Walks for TS, call 908-575-7350 or visit www.njcts.org.