The following is from the National Tourette Syndrome Association. Teens4TS is extremely proud of each and every one of the 46 teens who last week became Youth Ambassadors!
The national Tourette Syndrome Association’s 2013 Trip to the Hill brought 46 newly trained Youth Ambassadors and parents (a total of 100 participants) to Washington DC from March 19 to 21 for three days of training and TSA’s Trip to the Hill.
The Trip to the Hill presents an opportunity for Youth Ambassadors to speak publicly about Tourette Syndrome and advocate not just for themselves, but for all individuals living with TS.
On Wednesday night, at a dinner to celebrate the end of the 2-day training sessions, Judit Ungar, outgoing President of national TSA, and founder of TSA’s Public Policy initiative, received TSA’s Public Policy Award.
On Thursday morning, March 21, at a kick-off breakfast, Peter Hollenbeck, former Co-Chair of the TSA’s Scientific Advisory Board and Professor and Associate Head of Biological Sciences and Purdue University shared his personal story about TS and gave uplifting advice to the Youth Ambassadors.
Then, at the Capitol, five members of Congress, the Youth Ambassador and family members, as well as congressional staff members participated in a Congressional Briefing Luncheon, an information session to raise awareness about TS.
This years Luncheon was held on the House Side of the Capitol (in Room HC-5), and was sponsored by Congressman Steve Cohen. Professor Hollenbeck addressed the Luncheon attendees.
TSA was honored to have Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC gave an update on the TSA and CDC program partnership.
TSA presented several awards at the Briefing: Congressman Peter King (R-03-NY), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-16-CA), and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-09-TN) all received TSA’s most prestigious 2013 Public Policy Awards for their support of the TS Public Health Education and Research Program and for co-sponsoring the Congressional Caucus on TS. In addition, we received warm greetings and remarks from a previous award recipient and longtime friend of the TSA, Congressman Pete Sessions of TX.
In presenting the awards Bradley Wilinsky, Youth Ambassador from IL shared his personal story and presented the award to Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. Jennifer Zwilling, Youth Ambassador Program Co-Founder and Trainer, presented the award to Congressman Peter King.
Polly Draper, award-winning star of stage, screen and television, a producer, director and screen writer, mother of Alex and Nat Wolff and wife of Board Member, Michael Wolff, who is longtime friend of Congressman Steve Cohen presented the award to Congressman Cohen.
Immediately following the briefing, the group broke out for meetings from 1 to 5 p.m. with their appropriate House Representative and their two Senators. TSA’s Trip to the Hill goal is to educate and inform Members of Congress on how TS impacts their constituents and the national community.
This year, an estimated 110 meetings with various House Representatives and US Senators from 29 different states took place. The TSA Youth Ambassadors shared their personal stories about living with TS and displayed great leadership as Ambassadors for TS.
During these in-person meetings, constituents thanked Congress for supporting the Public Health Education and Research Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now concluding 9 years of a partnership with the national TSA.
In addition, the Youth Ambassadors joined TSA in asking Congress to establish a Congressional Caucus on TS to advance TSA’s mission of education, research and service. Congressman Steve Cohen of TN is chairing the Caucus on TS and is currently looking for additional co-sponsors.
Congressional Champions will be submitting an appropriations request letter known as the “Dear Colleague Letter” to the Appropriations Committee when Congress begins working on the Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations Bill.
This year, Congressman Leonard Lance of NJ, Congressman Peter King of NY, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of NY, and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of CA sponsored the House letter and Senator Charles Schumer of NY and Robert Casey of PA will be sponsoring the Senate letter.
With the help of many of our Youth Ambassadors and members back at home who are calling on their members to sign onto the Dear Colleague Letters, we will achieve the highest level of support in the House and Senate for TS.