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A night at the movies

Danielle Castonzo | Oct 31, 2018

Guests enjoy a meal before a movie in Amherst, New York.

The simple pleasure of going to a movie and enjoying the camaraderie of a joint viewing experience while munching on popcorn is a regular occurrence for many children. But for children with Tourette Syndrome, movie night isn’t so simple.

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that involves involuntary tics and vocalizations, and children dealing with the issue often cannot attend movies in a theater from concern of disturbing others. Members of the Kiwanis Club of Amherst, New York, wanted to change that situation. So they hosted a movie night just for kids with Tourette Syndrome and their families.

On a Saturday evening, kids and families associated with the Tourette Syndrome Association of Greater New York State gathered at Calvary Episcopal Church in Williamsville, New York, for an evening of food and fun. 

“The kids, along with their families, were able to enjoy a movie without fear of disrupting the rest of the moviegoers,” says Christina McCormick, past president of the Amherst Kiwanis Club. “Many of these kids have formed lasting friendships with the other kids from this group and enjoy getting together with peers who have TS as well.” 

It’s a cause close to the heart of McCormick and her husband, because their son has Tourette Syndrome. While in support groups, McCormick heard others sharing experiences about children with Tourette Syndrome not being allowed into movie theaters due to their vocal tics. That sparked the idea for the Kiwanis club’s project.

During the event, children and families filled up on hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, baked beans, a spread of desserts and, of course, movie popcorn. On the screen: the blockbuster “Black Panther.” At the end of the night, each child received a gift bag that included a copy of the film.

This first-time event proved so successful that McCormick hopes to host another movie soon. 

“The kids were able to hang out, have fun and, most importantly, not have to worry about hiding or suppressing their vocal or physical tics,” she says.

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