YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
The objective of the NJCTS Youth Development Program is to provide youth diagnosed with TS opportunities to develop their strength, courage and confidence while embracing their differences and advocating for themselves and others as an NJCTS Youth advocate.
Our wide variety of Youth Development programs discussed below put kids with this often misunderstood disorder on a positive path to becoming leaders and productive citizens.
“Becoming a Youth Advocate for NJCTS has helped me build confidence in myself as I learn to live with my Tourette Syndrome, inspire others who live with it and educate those who don’t. Now, I am a successful college student on my way to earning my degree in Early Childhood/ Special Education and Psychology. I am forever grateful for NJCTS and what they have done for me and my family.” – Liane, NJCTS Youth Advocate
School and Community Presentations
The NJCTS Youth Advocate Program trains children and teens, ages 10 to 18, to lead presentations to student and community groups about Tourette Syndrome and its associated disorders. Advocates are empowered by sharing their experiences in front of audiences of all sizes and attendees receive a strong anti-bullying message that promotes acceptance, tolerance, and self-advocacy for all.
In 2019, our NJCTS Youth Advocates reached more than 2,200 students at public and private schools in New Jersey. In addition, our educational outreach professionals reached 1,300 teachers and administrators during 24 in-service trainings providing information on the disorder as well as techniques for working with students with TS in the classroom.
Hospital Grand Rounds Presentations
A TS medical expert shares the podium with a youth advocate and together they present to a team of attending physicians and residents. The medical expert discusses the signs and symptoms, characteristics, diagnosis and treatment of TS. Following this the youth advocate presents for 20-30 minutes including questions and answers. This allows those in attendance to hear first-hand the impact and challenges of TS in a person’s daily life.
Dare to Dream
These conferences, put on by the NJ Department of Education, are leadership conferences that focus on strategies and information aimed to prepare high school students with disabilities for college and career readiness. There are several keynote speakers at each conference and NJCTS youth advocates have participated as keynote presenters for the last 10 years. As a keynote speaker, the Youth shares their story of living with TS and the associated disorders. This is a wonderful opportunity to show others that TS will not stop them from being who they are and reaching their goals. These presentations provide motivation and encouragement for people in the audience dealing with their own life’s challenges.
Throughout the year, representatives from NJCTS will meet with legislators in New Jersey regarding a number of issues of concern to the TS community. Often, a Youth Advocate will accompany the Executive Director to meet and speak with the legislators and share their story.
Family Retreat Mentor Panel
Each year, NJCTS comes together at YMCA Camp Bernie for some family fun. Included in our activities is a mentor panel, where camp attendees (both kids and parents) have the opportunity to ask questions of our seasoned advocates. Mentors range in age from teenagers still in high school to young adults making their way in the world. It is a unique opportunity for kids and families to ask questions of those going through similar experiences.
We encourage our advocates to spread awareness through the promotion of TS Awareness Day. We ask them to request that their mayor, county or state official make a TS Awareness Day proclamation. This involves contacting their office, explaining what Tourette Syndrome is and specifically what they are requesting. Often when someone succeeds in getting a proclamation declared, there is the chance to meet the official and have photos taken.
One of our main fundraisers is our annual walk. NJ Walks for TS promotes awareness, acceptance, action, and advocacy of Tourette Syndrome and its associated disorders. This event is about fun and empowerment for kids, by kids, and about kids.
The NJ Walks for TS virtual walk spans the months of March through May, and is a great opportunity for Youth Advocates to spread their wings as leaders by organizing a team, serving as a team captain, creating awareness and raising funds for NJCTS programs and services.
Teens4TS is a blog that provides a forum for youth advocates to share their thoughts, ideas and accomplishments with the NJCTS community. It is another avenue for kids with TS to connect with one another, and to be reminded that there are others out there facing similar struggles.
NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy
The NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy is a four-day intensive program that takes place on Busch Campus at Rutgers University. Over the course of the four days, participants attend workshops that provide a deeper understanding of their diagnoses and participate in small group discussions where they share personal triumphs and challenges. Participants always report that they form lasting connections, gain a better understanding of themselves, and walk away with a toolkit that prepares them for a successful future. Learn more
Teen Socials/Support Groups
Through the years, our families have asked for support groups where kids could get together, learn and talk, have fun and make friends. Therefore, we have created a once a month Social led by teens and young adults with TS. These chats will provide opportunities to engage in conversation, share ideas, create friendships and really build our wonderful TS community! Check our calendar of events for the next meeting.
To date, NJCTS has awarded more than 300 scholarships to graduating high school seniors diagnosed with TS. Winners are selected based upon academic achievement, community involvement, and accomplishments as an individual living with this challenging and complex neurological disorder. Learn more
For more information, call 908-575-7350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.