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Louisiana’s Tourette Syndrome Youth Ambassador Recognized Nationally

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Submitted by Becky Maus, Band Director at North Corbin Jr. High in Walker, LA

In April 2010, the National Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc. (TSA) hosted a three-day Tourette Syndrome (TS) Youth Ambassador training program in Washington, D.C. for teens ages 13 to 16.  After completing an application and submitting an essay regarding his intent and motivation to become a TSA Youth Ambassador, Christopher Maus, currently a sophomore at Walker High School, was chosen as Louisiana’s representative to complete this training along with 33 other teams from across the country.  In the months since his return, Chris has received requests to educate his peers and younger children with accurate information by going into classrooms, schools and clubs. The goal is to teach understanding, sensitivity and tolerance of TS and its symptoms, while displacing the myths and stereotypes that are often attributed to and associated with this misunderstood and misdiagnosed disorder.  One of Christopher’s recent presentations was at Lewis Vincent Elementary School in Denham Springs.  His interactive program for 50-60 fifth-graders was very well-received.

"Chris is a true ambassador whose presentation on Tourette's was both informative and beneficial for our students.   The simulation allowed staff and students to get a glimpse of what it is like to focus when you have one or more disabilities.  It was great seeing a former student become a leader in sharing with others." __Carol Robertson, principal of Lewis Vincent Elementary School, Denham Springs, LA

On December 14, Christopher received word that he has been selected by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) to travel to National Harbor, MD in April, 2011.  There he will receive the national Yes I Can! award for self-advocacy, along with 26 other recipients in 9 categories.  His application portfolio included letters of recommendation from his former principal Dr. Dana Nolan, his band director Jeff Seighman, and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, whom he met on his previous trip to Washington for the Youth Ambassador training.  This award is presented annually to individuals who have exhibited outstanding accomplishments despite their disabilities.

“As a Youth Ambassador for the TSA, Chris spoke with perseverance and courage that is rare at such a young age.  When I visited with Chris, it was clear that he had overcome the adversity that stood in his way in order to put his passion for this cause first.”__Sen. Mary Landrieu

The TSA Youth Ambassador program trains teens to advocate for themselves and for others and to educate their peers and younger children with accurate information.  Youth Ambassadors have found there are many personal benefits as well, such as learning to work as team members and developing increased confidence in public speaking.  Youth Ambassadors learn skills that they will use for the rest of their lives and at the same time are helping to enlighten our generation about Tourette Syndrome.

            Youth Ambassadors have a tremendous impact on educating their local communities and providing a greater awareness and understanding of TS.  Now in its third year, the Leadership Training has empowered previous years’ groups of 38 teams to complete 150 awareness activities and reach an estimated 3.5 million people.  Chris is proud to be a part of this program and join with other young people in helping to make a difference.

            Marked by involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics, Tourette Syndrome is an inherited neurological condition frequently misunderstood and misdiagnosed, affecting more than 200,000 Americans.  Founded in 1972, the national Tourette Syndrome Association celebrates 38 years of service to the TS community worldwide.  As the only national, voluntary health organization for people with TS, the TSA has a three-pronged mission of education, research and service and directs a network of 30 chapters and more than 150 support groups across the country.  For more information about TS, to schedule an educational presentation, or to join in creating a local support group in Louisiana, call 1-888-4-TOURET or visit http://tsa-usa.org or email Becky Maus at maustsa@cox.net .

Top: Chris's band photo

Above: Chris with Sen. Patrick Kennedy

 

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