PISCATAWAY, NJ - Team America's goalkeeper Tim Howard is working hard in Brazil, inspiring a generation of soccer players with each save. Back in his native New Jersey, his legacy is about to change lives in a new way.
Howard and the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS) are about to kick-off a Leadership Academy designed to empower teenagers with Tourette Syndrome (TS) and associated disorders. Howard has put a very public face to the neurological disorder, characterized by involuntary movements and sounds that affects as many as 1 in 100 Americans. A pilot launch of the program will take place Aug. 1 to Aug. 3 at Rutgers University.
"The goal of the Academy is to offer youth living with Tourette Syndrome the skills to deal with life's challenges through teamwork exercises and thinking outside the box- things that might not come naturally for kids with TS and other neurological disorders," said NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice, "We are so happy to continue our work with Tim and appreciate that he understands what it's like growing up with TS."
A group of 21 teenagers ages 14 to 17 will help NJCTS mold the Academy for future years by offering constant feedback on what else should be included, improved or eliminated.
"They will be credited as part of the development team," said Rice. "Terrific credentials they'll be able to add to their list of accomplishments when applying to college or the workforce."
The teens will work with six "coaches" age, 21-29 – all of whom also have TS and attend workshops presented by about a dozen "leaders" including psychologists, social workers, neurologists and educators. The teens will hail from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Howard, a member of the NJCTS Board of Directors, has worked with the Center since 2004 and began working on the Academy in 2010, when he represented the project in the Pepsi Refresh Project. Tens of thousands of fans voted for Howard's Academy concept to win $50,000.
"Bringing the idea to reality is so gratifying for us, but we know the outcomes will be profound for the teens who join us," said Rice, "Once again we are so proud to work with our friend Tim Howard in giving young people with TS an edge to succeed."
To learn more about Tourette Syndrome, visit www.NJCTS.org or call 908-575-7350.