June 23rd, 2024

City group raising awareness about Tourette’s syndrome


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on May 30, 2024.

Submitted photo - Members of the community take part in the annual Trek for Tourette event on May 26 at Legacy Park organized by Tourette's Lethbridge to raise awareness for Tourette's Syndrome.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

One in a hundred Canadians are living with Tourette’s syndrome and from May 15 to June 15 those affected by it are raising awareness.

In Lethbridge, awareness was raised over the weekend when City Hall and the Yates Memorial Theatre were lit up teal and community members took part of the annual Trek for Tourette Lethbridge on Sunday at Legacy Park.

Jerry Firth, Trek for Tourette Lethbridge coordinator spoke to the Herald Monday about the event and the importance of creating awareness about Tourette’s syndrome (TS).

“Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological disorder and it affects one in 100 Canadians, so it’s a little rare. The disorder creates neuropathways that cause impulsive tics that can be either physical or verbal and they can vary in severity,” said Firth.

He said tics can range from something subtle and minor, to extreme and intense for the individual. Firth added that TS is a disorder that is often misunderstood and portrayed as something that makes people swear uncontrollably, when in reality that is a very rare form.

“People look at TS and they often think of the extreme with the swearing and cussing, loud vocal tics and the big jerking bodies, but that’s actually rather rare on the spectrum of Tourette’s syndrome.”

Firth said this misunderstanding of TS is stigmatizing and harmful for those living with the disorder, that is why it is important to create awareness about the disorder, so people can be better informed about it and be able to understand those living with the disorder better.

“What we are trying to do is bring awareness to TS and the effects that it has on not only those living with the disorder, but also on their families and friends that are supporting them. That’s what the trek for Tourette is about,” said Firth.

He explained the event is beneficial in two ways – it provides education and awareness of the syndrome and it is also a fundraiser for Trek Canada.

 “Trek Canada is a national organization that supports individuals, families and communities affected by Tourette’s syndrome providing resources and support. They host these treks across the country every year,” said Firth.

 He said the nation-wide trek usually takes place on the last Sunday in May, which is why the event took place over the weekend at Legacy Park.

 “We were pretty fortunate, we had a good showing yesterday. I think we had about 25 or so people come to the event and so far in Lethbridge we’ve been able to raise just over $2,500 to the total Trek Canada’s efforts,” said Firth.

 He said so far Trek Canada has been able to raise close to $20,000 of their $50,000 goal.

 “We’re pretty happy with what we can do here in Lethbridge to help contribute toward that greater cause, but also have the opportunity to bring awareness to Tourette’s syndrome,” said Firth.

For residents looking to connect with others living with Tourette’s or their caregivers, the group created a Facebook page called Tourette Lethbridge.

Information on the disorder and resources can also be found at Tourette Canada at tourette.ca

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