NJCTS Youth Advocate Tess Kowalski delivers keynote address at Dare to Dream Conference

Dare to dream

NJCTS Youth Advocate Tess Kowalski delivered a moving keynote address at the 2016 Dare to Dream Student Leadership Conference at Mercer County Community College on April 29.

The New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs sponsors regional Dare to Dream Student Leadership conferences that highlight strategies and information to prepare high school students with disabilities for college and career readiness. Each conference features keynote presentations from accomplished students and young adults with disabilities who have demonstrated exemplary self-advocacy and leadership skills.

As teens and young adults living with Tourette Syndrome—a misunderstood, misdiagnosed neurological disorder characterized by involuntary sounds and movements known as tics—NJCTS Youth Advocates are uniquely positioned to speak to and inspire others who are overcoming obstacles. Advocates are trained to educate others about Tourette Syndrome promoting acceptance, tolerance, self-advocacy, and leadership.

“Tess did an outstanding job at the Mercer conference,” said Bob Haugh, Project Coordinator for Dare to Dream. And we couldn’t agree more!

NJCTS Youth Advocate Tess Kowalski delivers keynote address at the Dare to Dream conference at Mercer County Community College.

NJCTS Youth Advocate Tess Kowalski delivers keynote address at the Dare to Dream conference at Mercer County Community College.

NJCTS Youth Advocate featured on ABC’s “Protect Our Children” special

PROTECT_OUR_CHILDREN_Date Time WABCOn April 16th, ABC aired the, “PROTECT OUR CHILDREN: COPING, STRESS, & MOVING FORWARD” special hosted by Eyewitness News Anchor, Diana Williams. This special describes what experts are referring to as an epidemic of stress-related problems plaguing our children. It’s not easy being a kid these days and the American Psychological Association says one in three teens is stressed. Doctors report they are treating kids as young as six for Migraines and Ulcers. NJCTS Youth Advocate Tom Licato of South Plainfield, NJ, was featured in the program along with other young people dealing with physical, mental, and economic stress-related problems.

“Meeting a 17 year old High School Junior on a mission to educate others about Tourette Syndrome, he’s clearly a leader and a powerful advocate,” said the special’s producer, Jeelu Billimoria. “Finally being diagnosed in 6th grade was a relief for him and he continues to be treated at Overlook Medical Center’s Neuroscience Institute.”

Click here to watch one of NJCTS’s finest advocates on ABC.


Skiier races toward Tourette awareness

KylaKyla, a sixth grade student from Oak Ridge, represented the state of New Jersey in Gilford, New Hampshire at the Pice Invitational Ski Race last month for the second year in a row. Kyla was invited to participate in this race because she placed in the top 10 ski racers in her age in the tri-state area–in fact, she placed third in NJ this year! Kyla was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in third grade and never let it hold her back. Today, she is raising awareness for TS and she’s asking the Mayor to recognize June 4 as Tourette Syndrome Awareness day in Jefferson Township. She is certainly one of The GreaTS!

Join Kyla and NJCTS in getting towns all across New Jersey to recognize June 4th as TS Awareness Day!


Kyla received her trophy at the NJSRA Banquet.

Kyla received her trophy at the NJSRA Banquet.

Youth Advocate Tess speaks to doctors at Hunterdon Medical Center

Last week, NJCTS Youth Advocate Tess Kowalski and NJCTS partner doctor Harvey Bennett, MD, Goryeb Children’s Hospital, engaged the doctors at Hunterdon Medical Center with a powerful Grand Rounds presentation. After Dr. Bennett gave an overview of Tourette Syndrome and the associated disorders from a medical perspective, Tess and her father, Tim, shared their personal experiences with TS.

Tess and other NJCTS Youth Advocates like her are helping the medical community deepen their understanding of the needs of patients with TS and their families. Way to go, Tess!

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Youth Advocate Jacob speaks to students at Deal School

Recently, NJCTS Youth Advocate Jacob Gerbman presented to the fifth graders at Deal School in Deal, NJ. The students learned about Tourette Syndrome, acceptance, and treating others with respect. After Jacob’s presentation, the students welcomed their classmate, Nolan, to the front of the room to answer some questions about his experience with TS. Together, Jacob and Nolan helped to create an open and supportive atmosphere for all students in attendance. School counselor Christine Priest said, “Jacob was amazing. He was such as good role model not only to Nolan but the other students as well.” Nolan said afterwards he “felt like a star!”Image-1 Image-3 Image-5 Image-8