NJ Tourette awareness walk series goes ‘virtual’
SOMERVILLE — Since 2013, "What's So Great About the Garden State" has periodically featured the New Jersey Walks for TS series, sponsored by the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome and typically held three times a year — once each in North, Central, and South Jersey.
This year, there are no specific walks scheduled, but that does not mean the concept has worn out its welcome.
New Jersey Walks for TS is instead letting participants choose when, and how, they want to show how they get moving in support of breaking down stigma and spreading awareness of a condition that affects 1 in 100 children, including tens of thousands in the Garden State.
"We're going virtual," said Nicole Greco, who coordinates the walks on behalf of NJCTS. "We're combining our North, Central, and South Jersey regional events, and rolling them into a monthlong event."
How it works: Anyone who wants to get involved can sign up (at njcts.org/virtual) and either form or join teams made up of family, friends, neighbors, and community business leaders, and whatever exercise a particular group's members want to do, they are encouraged to do so during the entire month of April.
"Instead of showing up to a one-day 5K or walk, you can decide, 'OK, you know what? I'm gonna ride my bicycle. I'm gonna run a half-marathon. I'm gonna walk on my treadmill,'" Greco said.
Greco also said participants are welcome to send in pictures of their activities as a way to show that advocacy can be fun. Kids with Tourette syndrome, she said, are often bullied because they appear different, and at least 90 percent are also diagnosed with some other mental health condition, but she also said these children are high achievers and advocate for their peers.
The series of walks was begun in part because education about Tourette syndrome was so lacking, and so proceeds from the April Virtual Walk will go toward education outreach programs at NJCTS. In 2017, those programs reached over 8,000 educators plus thousands more schoolchildren, emphasizing awareness, support, and acceptance.
To find out more, visit njcts.org or call 908-575-7350.
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