Youth Ambassador Spotlight: Matthew

I’m Matthew and I love to read and study history. I also love sports like basketball & soccer.

I, Matthew, am almost 15 years old and live in Westchester County, with my mom Sharon, my dad Andrew, my twin brother Josh, and my 12-year-old brother Charlie. I am in 9th grade and this is my first year at the public high school. One thing about my family is that we always push each other to be the best versions of ourselves. Whether it be on the sports field, in the classroom, or just treating others with compassion, there is always healthy competition and support in the Cooper household. Importantly, the support I receive from my family has played a major role in how I live with Tourette.

I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when I was 5. Fortunately, I wasn’t asked about my “weird movements” much, so I just pushed them aside. Over time, as I understood what Tourette was, it began to take over my life. Luckily, I wasn’t teased much (to my face at least), but throughout elementary and middle school, certain tics caused me neck pains and others made it difficult to focus, especially on assessments. Instead of breaking down, my family did everything they could to lift me up and make sure that I was stronger despite my Tourette, including massages, doctor’s appointments, and signing me up for the TAA buddy program, where I could hang out with an older kid who was just like me.

The buddy program empowered me to realize that no matter how old I am, I can always make a difference in someone’s life.