HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A teenager with Tourette’s Syndrome has started his own student scholarship to reward other kids facing similar challenges.
Giovanni Kubanick will be a junior in High School and has the disorder that is often misunderstood, reports CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.
“They think that we’re some weird different type of person, because people fear what they don’t know and that’s understandable,” said Kubanick.
Giovanni was diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder as a 6-years-old, but with the help of teachers at his elementary school he became an Honor Roll Student and is now traveling the country as a Tourette’s Syndrome Youth Ambassador.
He is working to educate people and dispel myths that TS is just someone constantly cursing involuntarily. It actually presents as vocal and motor tics that can cause anxiety and lack of focus.
“When people have Tourette’s they usually it comes out as either a twitch or a sound,” he said. “Usually for most people when you first get it starts out as a cough.”
“One might have a vocal tick where they hum or they shout out words,” said Giovanni’s mother Valerie Kubanick.
One may have the motor ticks where they bend over or their arm flies out or maybe just their eyes are blinking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 100 children across the United States is diagnosed with Tourette’s or a tic disorder every year.
When Giovanni graduated from Holy Family Catholic Elementary, he decided to start a student scholarship that would be awarded to an 8th grader at the school who overcame special challenges to succeed.
“You may have worked harder than other kids do to reach this point, and now you’re getting rewarded for that hard work you’re getting rewarded from someone who did the same thing,” said Kubanick.
He’s now presented the achievement through perseverance award for two years. It comes with $250 he earns as a DJ and a medal.
Principal Maryalice Doherty told me about the first recipient of the award.
“He wore that medal everyday everywhere he was so proud and it was life changing,” said Doherty.
Kubanick says he plans on going into international relations and spreading awareness about Tourette’s worldwide.