MOUNT GILEAD — Kyndra Irwin has been selected as one of this year’s 37 Youth Ambassadors for the Tourette Association of America.
The 15-year-old Mount Gilead resident will share her personal story with representatives in Washington, D.C. during the Association’s National Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill March 5, and will advocate for public policies and services for people affected by Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders.
“Since TS has become part of my life one thing, I really want to do is spread awareness. If I can help someone better understand TS or give someone with TS hope that is will be okay, then I have made an impact,” Irwin said.
Irwin is a freshman at Mount Gilead High School and is the daughter of John and Cheri Irwin.
An estimated 1 in 100 school-aged children in the United States has Tourette Syndrome (TS) or a related Tic Disorder, which causes them to make sudden uncontrollable movements and sounds called tics. TS is a lifelong condition affecting all races, ethnicities, and genders.
Due to the complexities of the disorder, 50 percent of individuals are going undiagnosed. In addition, many children, parents, teachers and even physicians don’t fully understand TS, which can lead to bullying, a lack of community support, an improper diagnosis and a host of other issues that impair the quality of life for someone with TS.
Irwin will complete a comprehensive training and join a network of over 1,000 Youth Ambassadors and their adult team members to learn how to speak publicly about the often misunderstood disorder. In addition to the training, they will represent their state in the Association’s National Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. where close to 150 Congressional meetings will take place to raise awareness for the most pressing issues facing the community.
In addition, she helps to educate her peers and local community on how to promote understanding and social acceptance of TS and its symptoms through presentations at schools, clubs and community centers.
“Youth Ambassadors for the TAA have a significant impact on awareness efforts in their local communities,” said Amanda Talty, President and CEO of the Tourette Association of America “Their efforts not only educate others about the disorder, but are a bridge to reaching other individuals who feel isolated to know they are not alone.”
For information about the Youth Ambassador program, visit www.tourette.org.