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Guest Blogger Shari L.: Winnipeg Students Learn About TS and How to Give Back

Shari is the mother of two children including Evan, an eight-year-old boy who has TS and loves to play hockey. Shari lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba and is excited to participate in the upcoming Trek for Tourette (this will be their family’s second trek since Evan was diagnosed with TS). Behind every great teacher, are great students. In this case, I am talking about the Grade three and four students at Hastings Elementary School in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This year, these students embarked on a special learning journey. They experienced firsthand what it is like to have a classmate with Tourette Syndrome. They saw and heard their classmate ticcing—sniffling, throat clearing, blinking and shoulder shrugging (he also has neck straining). This classmate is a special person in my life. He is my son. With the support of the teachers and the school, my family had the opportunity to help educate the class about what TS is, and what it isn’t. During the first few weeks of class, the threes and fours read the book I Can’t Stop: A Story About Tourette Syndrome. Next, they received a presentation on TS by the Tourette Clinic at St. Boniface Hospital. Most recently, the class watched an HBO documentary movie called I Have Tourette’s But Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me [Ed. note: the TSFC has also produced a classroom-friendly film called Tourette Is Powerful]. In February, as part of a math unit, the students were asked to bring a maximum of 10 items (including toys, figurines, hockey cards and dolls) from home to sell at a school garage sale. This activity was an opportunity for the students to review and handle money, to make signs for their store, label the prices, advertise and work on their customer service skills. We were surprised to learn that this activity would become about much more than math and social skills. It was a hands on lesson in giving back and supporting a classmate. The money from the school garage sale was to be donated to a charity of the students choosing. On Wednesday, February 13, 2013 the students voted to donate the money to two charities. I am pleased to say that one of two charities was the Winnipeg Chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada. A special message to those students from a grateful and proud family: “Way to go Grade three & four students at Hastings School!!!!! We are so impressed with your kindness and ability to care for people affected by Tourette Syndrome. You are great role models and we can learn a lot from you! Whether you realize it or not you are helping individuals who have Tourette Syndrome. You are truly amazing kids who have demonstrated the gift of human kindness and acceptance. Thank you. My wish is that every student with Tourette Syndrome can be surrounded by kids like the ones at Hastings School. Thank you Grade three & four students of Hastings School and Mr. V!”

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