Shauni James is a Rotorua Daily Post reporter

Rotorua-based camp lets kids with Tourette's be themselves

Add a comment

Making friends and memories while taking on what Rotorua has to offer is what children attending Camp Twitch 2016 are most looking forward to.

The camp at Keswick Christian Camp this week is for young people with Tourette syndrome. There are 46 children with Tourette's attending, as well as six adults with the syndrome. With parents and supporters included, there are 109 people taking part.

Executive director of the Tourette's Association New Zealand and Camp Twitch, Robyn Twemlow, said planned activities included Hell Pizza teaching the children how to make dough and pizza plus trips to the Aquatic Centre, Skyline and luge and Agroventures.

"We wanted to see as much and experience as much as we can."

She said a reason they chose Rotorua for the camp was so the children could take part in activities where they could challenge and be proud of themselves, as "a lot of these kids get bullied and picked on, and have low self-esteem".

"They're just so excited."

Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterised by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalisations called tics.

Ms Twemlow said she started the association and camp following a struggle to find support groups and contacts after her daughter was diagnosed. "For a lot of them it's the first time or the only time they meet others with Tourette's.

"They are quite overwhelmed initially, and the parents get overwhelmed as well as all these emotions come out."

The children, adults, parents and supporters received a powhiri at the Rotorua Lakes Council yesterday.

"It's just lovely that people want to welcome us."

She said the youngest child was 6, with the bulk of the children between 10 and 14.

Five of the children are being followed throughout camp for a one-hour documentary to be aired by TVNZ. The documentary will be out in the New Year.

Napier's Lily Poutama, 12, said she was looking forward to all the activities and making new friends.

She said the camp was great because you met other people who had Tourette's, you could be comfortable and didn't have to hide it.

Lily said a challenge of Tourette's was trying to get people to understand what it was.

"Sometimes people will stare at you and make fun of you but don't understand what it is."

Cadence Hita, 10, from Ashhurst and Jacob Brown, 9, from Palmerston North also said they were looking forward to making new friends at the camp.

For more articles from this region, go to

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 03 Dec 2016 13:03:50 Processing Time: 588ms