EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - October is Bullying Prevention Month and the message of kindness and acceptance is being delivered within schools all across the country. NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders (NJCTS) has always put their Youth Advocates up to this challenge. This month, Youth Advocate Riley Burke, 17, of Bedminster delivered her message to 5th graders at Warnsdorfer Elementary School in East Brunswick.

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by uncontrollable movements known as tics. As many as 1 in 100 people show signs of TS or other tic disorder which is frequently accompanied by other mental health disorders including ADHD, OCD, and anxiety.

Riley was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age 6 and is currently a senior at Bernards High School. She has been a Youth Advocate with NJCTS for several years. She does informational presentations at schools within the state of New Jersey to educate her peers about Tourette Syndrome and what it means to live with this neurological disorder.

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The NJCTS Youth Advocate Program trains children and teens, ages 10 to 18, to lead presentations to student groups about Tourette Syndrome and its associated disorders. Advocates are empowered by sharing their experiences in front of audiences of all sizes and attendees receive a strong anti-bullying message that promotes acceptance, tolerance, and self-advocacy for all. These presentations are given in classrooms or to full assemblies.

“Kids with Tourette are a little different, but that is not a bad thing,” says Riley.  Riley is just one of the Youth Advocates that will be presenting at schools during Bullying Prevention Month and beyond. “I love to know I might be making a small difference for someone who might have or is living with TS.”

The NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders, the nation’s first Center for Excellence for Tourette Syndrome, is a not-for-profit organization committed to the advocacy of children and families with Tourette Syndrome and its associated disorders. Dedicated to delivering high quality services to these individuals, the Center recognizes the importance of educating the public, medical professionals, and teachers about this disorder through programs and affiliations with public schools, health centers, and universities. To learn more about Tourette Syndrome and the programs available from NJCTS, visit www.njcts.org.