An Elkins Park teen with Tourette Syndrome becomes a youth ambassador to help educate others about the affliction.
Mitzvah Hero: Adam Fishbein, 16, of Elkins Park, wants to help others become better equipped to interact with those afflicted with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes physical tics and uncontrollable verbal outbursts. Adam, who has been dealing with the condition since age 3, has spent the past year as a youth ambassador of the Tourette Syndrome Association. He received the honor after extensive written tests and interviews following his application.
What It’s All About: The 11th-grader at the Woodlynde School, a “co-ed college prep school for students who learn differently from their peers,” in Strafford, Pa., sees his ambassadorship as a mitzvah because he can improve “others’ understanding of something that affects many people around the world. I speak for them and address misconceptions” about the nature of the affliction, which may cause others to stare and make derogatory comments.
This past July, Adam and mom Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein (his dad is Joel Fishbein) joined other youth ambassadors and their parents to lobby congressmen in Washington, D.C., for continued funding for Tourette Syndrome research at the Centers for Disease Control. He has since delivered other public speeches about Tourettes, including at White Pines Camp in Elkins Park.
As part of his work as a youth ambassador, Adam was invited to participate in the Tim Howard Leadership Academy, held in August in New Jersey. (Howard, the heralded goalie on this past summer’s U.S. soccer team in the World Cup, also suffers from the disorder.)
Not a One-Time Thing: Adam has done a lot of volunteering at his synagogue, Kol Ami, serving as an assistant teacher in the religious school. He’s also done community service at area thrift stores benefitting the disadvantaged.
Good for Him: Through volunteering for the Tourette Syndrome Association, “I have learned so much about myself,” says Adam. “But the thing that really stands out is that when I put my mind to something, I can do anything.”