The TAA Youth Ambassador Program brings together, trains and supports teens to advocate for and talk about Tourette and Tic Disorders in their community, with their elected officials and before their peers at school, sports leagues, scout troops, camps and after-school programs. They also have the opportunity to discuss Tourette and Tic Disorders in Congress during their “Trip to the Hill.”
Spread Tolerance of TS
The goal is to educate children all over the country about TS and to spread tolerance of and understanding about TS, while displacing the myths and stereotypes that are often associated with this misunderstood and misdiagnosed disorder. The teen and their adult parent or guardian comprise a Youth Ambassador (YA) Team – with the teen giving presentations and the adult helping with scheduling and other arrangements.
Develop Your Leadership Skills
Youth Ambassadors enjoy many personal benefits to their participation, such as learning to work as team members and developing increased confidence in public speaking. Youth Ambassadors learn skills they will use for the rest of their lives as they help enlighten new generations about Tourette Syndrome.
This is an excellent opportunity for interested teens to learn public speaking, build friendships with other teens involved in the program, gain leadership and advocacy skills, and represent the TS community as they raise awareness through YA Program activities.
Since its establishment in 2005, the Tourette Association Youth Ambassador Program has been an ever-expanding group of teens with TS (and their siblings, friends and classmates) who speak about Tourette Syndrome and tic disorders to their peers at school, sports leagues, scout troops, camps and after school programs. The purpose of the Program is to spread tolerance of and understanding about TS.
The YA Program trains teens to advocate for themselves and for others and to educate their peers with accurate information about this often misunderstood and misdiagnosed disorder. The Program has also aimed to educate lawmakers and the public about TS, and to raise awareness about the impact of federal legislation on the health and well-being of people with TS.
The teen and their parent or guardian comprise a YA Team – with the teen giving presentations and the adult helping with scheduling and other arrangements.
- The Youth Ambassador must be between 12 and 17 years old.
- The Youth Ambassador may or may not have a diagnosis of TS.
- The Youth Ambassador must be paired with an adult who will take on the responsibility of helping with the program, presentation, schedule and outreach. These are typically teen/parent teams, however the adult does not need to be a YA’s parent (could be another family member, neighbor, teacher, etc).
- Youth Ambassadors must have a clear understanding of Tourette Syndrome. You will be trained, however you must accept responsibility to become proficient in and comfortable with speaking about Tourette Syndrome.
- Comfortable with speaking in public.
- Good communication skills – both verbal and written.
- Must be willing to share your personal experience/story about Tourette Syndrome with Elected Officials.
As a Tourette Association Youth Ambassador Team, you play a key role in increasing awareness and understanding of Tourette Syndrome and tic disorders in your community. You should be prepared to present in various settings (for example: schools, after-school clubs, scout meetings, athletic team meetings) as needed.
In addition, you will be asked to:
- Become an active advocate by learning about TS, the Tourette Association and the issues impacting families.
- Prepare short statements (written and spoken) to explain TS and its impact on your (or a diagnosed individual’s) life.
- Be interviewed by your local media.
- Attend functions such as corporate breakfasts to present short speeches and chat with executives.
- Participate in Public Policy Action Alerts and recruit other local activists to support grassroots advocacy efforts.
- Organize events for the Tourette Association’s annual Advocacy Day efforts and attend Capitol Hill meetings.
- Meet, call, or write to federal and local elected officials.
The role varies throughout the year, and is often linked directly to major annual events. For example, children and families might work with local media during Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, May 15-June 15 of each year.
Estimated time commitment required from each Youth Ambassador Team:
- This is flexible and highly negotiable, however YA Teams are asked at minimum to commit to scheduling one full school year’s worth of presentations to peers. A lot of YA’s present for several years after they train.
- We do ask that you and your family consider your availability carefully – the demand for presentations can become substantial.
- Please note: It is not unusual for Youth Ambassadors to be asked to present during school hours, as a large portion of a Youth Ambassador’s role is to educate in schools during the school year.
The Tourette Association Youth Ambassador Training is a two-day comprehensive training program aimed at creating exceptional teen leaders and TS advocates. Youth Ambassadors will receive guidance on utilizing the fundamentals of interpersonal communication including overcoming common fears about speaking in public, guidance on how to give a concise presentation on TS and presentation logistics. The Training also includes participation in the Tourette Association’s annual National Advocacy Day. Youth Ambassador Teams will receive training on how to have a successful meeting with their elected officials.
This is an excellent opportunity for interested teens to learn public speaking, build friendships with other teens involved in the Program, gain leadership and advocacy skills, and represent the Tourette community as you raise awareness through YA Program activities.