Your Voice Matters (YVM3)
Today’s story is about Nathaniel Ray, a 14-year old boy with Tourette Syndrome who began speaking out about his condition in May of 2010. (Read Orlando Sentinel the article here) Nathaniel joined forces with the National Tourette Syndrome Association and their “Youth Ambassador Program” and speaks largely in elementary and middle schools to heighten awareness about this often misunderstood malady.
(From the Sentinel article) “Sometimes, kids make fun of people with Tourette’s,” Nathaniel said to the class. “You wouldn’t make fun of someone with asthma because they have to use an inhaler would you?”
Tourette’s syndrome is an inherited neurological disorder affecting an estimated 200,000 Americans, and is usually diagnosed in children between the ages of 3 and 10. The most familiar and caricatured form of Tourette’s is called coprolalia, in which the sufferer uses sometimes inappropriate language in bursts. While it is the characteristic of Tourette’s most often portrayed, it affects an estimated 10 percent of people with the disorder.
Nathaniel, now 15 and in high school in Orlando, is still participating in the NTSA’s ambassador program. Going into its fourth year, the ambassador program has trained more than 38 teams of teens from across the country and reached an estimated 3.5 million people. Nathaniel makes his voice matter by educating others about Tourette’s — your voice matters too! Speak out on issues that you feel strongly about.
If there is someone whose voice has mattered to you, leave a comment below!