The national Tourette's Syndrome Association Inc. (TSA) hosted its fifth annual Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) Youth Ambassador training program in Washington, D.C., April 18-19. Teens with Tourette’s Syndrome ages 13-17 were invited to apply.
Silvers has now returned to Georgia to educate her peers and younger children with accurate information by go-ing into classrooms, schools and clubs to teach understanding, sensitivity and tolerance of TS and its symptoms.
Her goal is also to dispel the myths and stereotypes often attributed to and associated with this misunderstood and misdiagnosed disorder. Silvers was accompanied by her mother, Autumn Clark, who also participated in the training.
“It was so neat getting to meet all of the people with Tourette’s,” Silvers said. “I had the opportunity to learn more about the disorder and make new friendships. It was interesting and great being the only one selected from Georgia to attend the training. I plan on educating as many people I can about Tourette’s Syndrome.”
Teens in the TS Youth Ambassador program are trained to advocate for themselves and for others and to edu-cate their peers and younger children. They are given the opportunity to meet with local members of Congress and they also appear in the media and assist with awareness campaigns.
Ambassadors say there are many personal benefits as well, such as learning to work as team members and de-veloping increased confidence in public speaking. The trainees learn lifelong skills and at the same time are help-ing to enlighten the present generation about Tourette’s Syndrome.
In addition to the comprehensive training, the newly trained ambassadors participated in a “Trip to the Hill” on April 19 during which they met with their local elected officials on Capitol Hill to inform them about how TS affects those living in their communities. A congressional luncheon briefing was also held, an event in which senators, con-gressmen and their aides hear first-hand about the struggles and issues faced by those suffering by TS.
Silvers also met with Rep. Tom Graves and his staffer Jason Murphy, as well as Chance Phiniezy of Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office and Bo Butler of Sen. Chambliss’ office. They discussed the importance of receiving funding from the CBC for education and research on Tourette’s Syndrome.
“It means so much to me that they take the time to listen to me, a teenager, tell them my story,” Silver said re-garding her trip to the Hill, “and they actually care.”
Marked by involuntary vocal sounds and physical movements called tics, Tourette’s Syndrome is an inherited neurological condition frequently misunderstood and misdiagnosed, affecting more than 200,000 Americans.
Founded in 1972, the national Tourette’s Syndrome Association (TSA) is celebrating its 40th year as the only na-tional, voluntary health organization for people with Tourette’s Syndrome. The TSA has a three-pronged mission: to identify the cause of, control the effects of and find a cure for Tourette’s Syndrome through education, research and service. The TSA directs a network of 33 chapters and more than 150 support groups across the country. For more information about TS, call 1-888-4-TOURET or visit http://tsa-usa.org.