Justin Bachman
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Justin Bachman

Allendale, Michigan, United States

Allendale, Michigan, United States
Band Comedy

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"I just wanted to tell you what an incredible job you did this morning. You looked so natural standing up on stage and your presentation was clear and fluid. Your public speaking skills are well beyond anything I could ever ask for and my friends and I spent all of lunch talking about how inspirational and amazing your story is. Keep up the good work! Thanks so much for coming to Laurel!" - Enna, Laurel High School


"I attended the presentation you gave. Both of my daughters were there as well. I just want to thank you and let you know how impressed I was with your story and your ability to stand up there and share it. You'll never know how many lives you will touch but be certain that you are making an important contribution to this world." - Sue Azzarello, Solon, OH


Teen Teaches understanding about Tourette's
By Colleen Michelle Jones

Justin Bachman, 15, spoke last week
with the poise and passion of the experienced,
in-demand public speaker he
has become over the last two ·years. It
was only when Bachman's jawbone
jerked spontaneously . or he made
another birdlike utterance mid-sentence
that the audience of Irvington
students was reminded that Bachman
has Tourette's syndrome, a neurological
disorder characterized by involuntary
motor and vocal tics.
Bachman held himself up as an
example of how differences ,.- physical
or otherwise - don't have to hold
young people back.And individual characteristics - religion,
sexual orientation, appearance, or
any number of other variances- are not
a reason to judge or look down on others,
Bachman told Irvington Middle School
students in a school-wide assembly in the
campus auditorium last Friday, April 26.
"There is no normal - everybody is
different, whether we like it not:' said
Bachman, a sophomore at Solon High
School outside Cleveland, Ohio.
.The teen was officially diagnosed in
seventh grade with a fairly severe form of -
Tourette's, as well as attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (~HD) and dysgraphia,
a learning disability ma.ri.ifested
by poor handwriting Skills. Bachman said
teachers and fellow students thought he
was a troublemaker until learning of his
condition, and even then some classmates
continued to tease him.
Bachman now tours the country the hurtful effects of intolerance, and
has been honored for his efforts with a
national Volunteer service Award presented
by President·Barack Obama. He
was invited to Irviilgton by Jessica Steinberg,
an IMS sixth-grader ~Vhose parents,_
Mark and Tara, and two younger
brothers previously lived· on the same
block as Bachman and his. family in
Solon: After the· Steinbergs· moved to
Irvington about two years ago, the two
families kept in touch; when Jessica
learned of the Character Building Connection initiative at IMS sh~ suggested
Bachman would be'a good guest speaker
for her school's spring assembly geared
to raising awareness of diversity.
'"I've faced a lot of intolerance myself. because of all I've had to face in my own
life:' Bachman said in an interview with
the Enterprise before his speaking
engagement at IMS.
Granted, his differences may be
more pronounced- at least, outwardly
- than others his age would commonly
identify with, but Bachman tries to
impress upon the young people he visits
that almost everyone has felt excluded
at some point in their lives, and it doesn't
feel good.
Bachman spoke of being ridiculed by
peers, recalling one time when he overhead
a few students in the hallway say
they were going to "pretend to have
Tourette's,"
"I shake my head, I make noises, and
sometimes I even say things I don't mean
out loud;' Bachman said.
Those behaviors, which are typical of
his disorder, tend to increase when he is
in a ·situation that makes him especially
anxioUs. He described the time ·he was
nervous about boarding an airplane
alone and how his condition (which can
sometimes cause Obsessive thought patterns
similar to obsessive-compulsive
disorder) made him think about what
the worst thing he could eve~ say in an
airport was.
"So I ended up ticking [repetitively
saying] 'bomb' - just yelling the word
out over and over:' Bachman recalled.
Such reactions, he said, can be impossible
for him to control in some cases.
Bachman had three Stu.dent volunteers
come up to the stage, two holding a
clean piece of white paper, the other. a
crisp $1 bill.
"Now disrespect the items," Bachman
commanded the students, who proceeded
to crumple ·up the pieces of paper in
their hands, one of the boys even stomping
on it. . .
Bachman then had the· three apologize
to their ''.victims," which elicited
laughter from the audience.
The message, however, Bachman said, was serious.
"Look at these people as you can
tell, even though we said we're sorry, they
are still crumpled and damaged," Bachman
Cautioned. "It never goes away.'
Bachman has turned his own challenges
into strengths. Back home, the 15-
year old runs for the Solon High School
cross-country team and plays alto sax in
the school's marching band and jazz
band. He is an honor student and also
finds time to volunteer in his community.
But Bachman has truly found his calling
spreading his message of acceptance
to the more than 11,000 students he has
been invited to address.
"Live loudly," he told students last
week (which is also the slogan on the Tshirt
he wore representing Honor Good
Deeds, the nonprofit Justin Bachman
and his family have created). "Be proud
of who you are, show it off to others,
- Colleen Michelle Jones, The Rivertowns Enterprise


Car shows, boat shows, motorcycle swap meets. Big fat home and garden shows. These are the blockbuster events we're used to seeing at the I-X Center.

But a Tolerance Fair?

What exactly is that?

Set for 2 to 7 p.m. March 10 at the I-X Center, it's an ambitious project dreamed up and organized by a Solon family, the Bachmans. This family has been crusading about the need to understand people's differences since 2011, after a sports official disqualified their teen son Justin, who has Tourette syndrome, from a cross-country race because of his nervous tics.

Their fair, which features exhibitors ranging from the Gay Lesbian BiSexual Transgender Association to Providence House crisis nursery, showcases ways that people can give back to their communities.

"We start with the premise that doing volunteer work exposes you to the differences in others," is how Ron Bachman, Justin's father, explains it.

If, like me, you wonder who in the heck would give up a Sunday afternoon to focus on tolerating one another's differences, know this: Turnout was high and feedback was fantastic for the first Tolerance Fair, held two years ago at the Solon Community Center. About 1,000 people attended.

Justin's mom, Lisa, got a phone call a year later from a grateful Rocky River woman who said she had gone to the fair on a whim. "Her daughter had been cutting herself. As a parent, she felt like a failure, she didn't know where to turn."

The woman said she'd stopped by the Suicide Prevention Education Alliance's table, and found the help she needed.

"She was calling a little more than a year later to say thank you, because her daughter was no longer cutting herself," Lisa Bachman says. "That was the phone call that changed everything."

It was then that the Bachmans realized that their fair had served a quieter purpose: In a non-threatening, easy way, it had steered people in need of help to local resources that could aid them.

They started to wonder, "What if we made the fair bigger and better?"

This year, they've done that, starting with the bigger venue. They've booked an internationally known speaker, bestselling author Kyle Maynard, the first person with no limbs to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Justin Bachman will tell the story about being disqualified from the race. He couldn't stop himself from nervously saying "Woo!" that day.
More than 60 nonprofits have signed on to be exhibitors, with more expected. There will be an area where guests can play wheelchair sports, to get an idea of what it's like to live every day without use of your legs. Admission and parking are free.

The Bachmans don't seem to struggle with getting buy-in. Solon Mayor Susan Drucker last week sent out a letter to her fellow Northeast Ohio mayors asking them to support the event. The first Tolerance Fair, she wrote, "was one of the most incredible and unique events" to take place in Solon.

It's a peculiar event, yet many say it touches a chord for them.

Lisa Oliver, president of Key Bank's Cleveland district, says the Bachmans inspire her. "Every time I'm with them, I walk away feeling more empowered and challenged to look at life differently." Key Bank is a top sponsor, along with Strassman Insurance, Fairmount Minerals and Motorists Mutual.

One of the exhibitors, John Visnaukas of All Faiths Pantry in Parma Heights, says he likes to take Sundays off, but he's decided not to miss the opportunity to meet the Tolerance Fair crowd. His organization, which delivers groceries to low-income seniors and people with limited mobility, is facing a crisis -- it has 50 percent less food to distribute due to local changes in allocation policies.

"I'm sure I'll be meeting a lot of folks and passing out a lot of cards. It's really all about the relationships and meeting people who are open to service, to our mission," he says.

As you might expect, 15-year-old Justin Bachman will share his story. He's getting quite used to telling it; he has given several speeches already and is slated to speak soon at Ohio State University and in Washington, D.C.

He'll talk about why he's different; he rates himself as a seven on a 1-10 scale of severity for Tourette's. His conversation gets disrupted by his involuntary shrieks and grunts.

He'll tell the story of getting disqualified from the meet. He couldn't stop himself from nervously saying "Woo!" that day, and the race official thought Justin was being obnoxious.

Teammate Adam Bozsvai, 15, stuck up for Justin that day and he admires Justin's efforts to raise awareness. "I think he has a tough life, but he has good friends to back him up and support him," he says.

Adam will be there at the I-X Center to support his friend.

It's normal to see people - Plain Dealer


Facing ridicule due to his tourette syndrome, 15-year-old Justin Bachman didn't want what happened to him to happen to others.

Read more: http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/local_news/oh_cuyahoga/solon-teen-justin-bachman-hosts-tolerance-fair-at-i-x-center#ixzz2VGYM30AS - NewsNet5


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Bio

Justin Bachman is a 11th grader at Solon High School. Justin knows first hand what it is like to be different. He has Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes his body to make strange movements and noises that he cannot control. He also deals with severe ADHD and dysgraphia which is a fine motor skills disorder resulting in an inability to write legibly.

Throughout his life, Justin has faced many challenges. He was constantly bullied in grade school and attempted suicide 3 times at the age of 10. During the 2012 school year, his disabilities caused him to be confined to a wheel chair for the school year.

Through great strength and courage, Justin has used his experiences to rise above his differences. He regularly volunteers for the Solon Blue Ribbon program which provides opportunities for special needs people to participate in typical types of activities. This past summer, Justin was a coach for one of the teams. Justin also participates in Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), Look Up to Cleveland, the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, Dancing Wheels, and has spoken to over 12,000 people in schools, clubs, and Civic Organizations.

In 2011, he planned and hosted a Tolerance Fair in which 1,000 people had the opportunity to interact with 48 charitable organizations to learn how they could get involved in community service or find resources to help them deal with their differences. He held a second Tolerance Fair in March, 2013 in which 3,000 people interacted with 129 non-profits and professional exhibitors. He recently created a Leadership Academy which will provide other students with the opportunity to plan this event for 2014.

Justin has received the following awards: In 2013, Store level winner for Kohl’s Kids Who Care (currently in the running for regional and national awards), a Educational Service Center (ESC) Believe it to Achieve it Award, RA Horn Award, Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) Yes I Can award. In 2012, Justin received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barak Obama and the Council on Service and Civic Participation, a Bronze Medal for the Prudential Spirit of Community award. In 2011, Justin won the Lindsay Stark Award, and in 2010, Justin received the PT Barnum Gold medal award for community service.

Justin was named as the emcee for the 2013 performance of Daring to Be Dumbo. Additionally, he was the emcee for Project Love’s Kick off for Kindness event in November, 2011 where 2500 students and administrators from schools across Northeast Ohio were in attendance.

In April of 2011, Justin was named as one of two Youth Ambassadors for the State of Ohio by the National Tourette Syndrome Association. In 2012, Justin was named to the leadership team for the Youth Ambassadors and is working to develop new programs and is responsible to help train new ambassadors.

Justin runs for the Solon High School Cross Country team and plays the Alto Sax in the High School’s marching band. He has a part time job as a server at Mitchell’s Ice Cream. He enjoys shooting hoops, dancing and riding his bike, swimming, kayaking and high ropes courses.