Everybody is Somebody in New Mexico

The Power of Education

The Tourette Association of America (TAA) Tourette Syndrome Health and Education Program (THEP) delivers presentations and educations across the nation to the people in the Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorder community, the general public, physicians, allied professionals, and school personnel. After an intense and unfortunate bullying situation occurred, Albuquerque’s Public Schools sought out an education opportunity to enlighten students and administrators. Representatives from TAA traveled to New Mexico on September 10 and 11 to deliver a powerful educational experience about Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders to nearly 1,000 people.

It was an impactful weekend and emotions ran high when Elias, sixth grader at John Adams Middle School, was able to meet and connect with another individual living with TS for the first time. Elias had been recently diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, but had endured years of bullying from his peers and adults in his life. Olivia Woodrich, TAA Rising Leader, is a tremendous advocate for the community. As part of her Rising Leader responsibilities, Olivia proudly mentors children like Elias to make sure they have the confidence and knowledge to educate others and reduce bullying. The two were able to spend time together, share, and relate to their experiences with TS.

Oliva then presented to nearly 600 students at John Adams Middle School and shared personal experiences, accurate information about Tourette Syndrome, and stressed the importance of educating not just students, but teachers as well. In addition to highlighting the greater need for TS awareness, she spoke on on inclusion, tolerance, social acceptance, and most importantly, compassion towards others who are different.

In addition to the presentation that took place at the middle school, Kathy Giordano, an Education Specialist at the TAA, spent the following day training roughly 500 Special Education District Administrators, Principals, School Psychologists, Board Certified Behavioral Analysts, Social Workers, and Behavioral Management Specialists from Albuquerque Public Schools about Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders. The presentation focused on understanding the impact of Tourette Syndrome on students and understanding effective positive, proactive strategies and techniques for supporting students who have TS.

Both Olivia and Kathy’s presentations were well received. Cindy Soo Hoo, Executive Director at Albuquerque Public Schools, said it best: “The information resonated with a lot of people. So many were talking about the presentations and how informative they were.”

“The information resonated with a lot of people. So many were talking about the presentations and how informative they were.”