FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | July 21, 2008
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Announces Second Annual Teens Scholarship, Continues Efforts to Educate, Engage Youth
NEW YORK, NY—It is becoming a new reality for many teenagers—balancing schoolwork and extracurricular activities with the added responsibility of caring for ailing parents and grandparents. Holly Hedberg of Phoenix, AZ can relate. When only nine- years-old, she learned that her father had Alzheimer’s disease and began assisting her mother with caregiving responsibilities.
Hedberg recently shared her personal struggle in caring for her father through the course of his heartbreaking illness in her winning essay for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s 2008 AFA Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship.
Now, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is encouraging other college-bound students to apply for its second annual $5,000 college scholarship. The deadline is February 15, 2009.
As the number of teenagers like Hedberg who have witnessed Alzheimer’s disease in their own families or communities continues to grow along with the escalating incidence of Alzheimer’s disease nationwide, the scholarship is part of AFA’s efforts to educate and raise awareness among teens through its AFA Teens Division.
“While Alzheimer’s disease is commonly viewed as a disease that affects the older generation, there is a need to recognize and respond to how it is impacting teens,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer. “Through the scholarship and other aspects of AFA’s support network, we hope teens will realize that they are not alone in the face of this disease.”
AFA introduced the AFA Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship last year and was inundated with hundreds of applications from college-bound students across the country.
As part of the competition, AFA asks students to write a 1,200 word essay giving thoughtful consideration to “the impact Alzheimer’s disease has on their own lives and what they learned about themselves, their family and/or their community in coping with the disease.”
The scholarship is awarded competitively and is to be used towards the first year’s tuition at a four-year college or university. For more details and an application, visit www.afateens.org.
In the introductory year of the competition, AFA saw firsthand how the scholarship gives teens a chance to reflect on lessons learned and an opportunity to voice their vision for the future.
Hedberg, whose father passed away when she was a high school freshman, noted in her essay, “[My dad’s] complete humility and surrender to what he could not do alone showed me the folly of my own solitude. Since then, I have learned what I can handle, and, like my father, what I can’t.”
Now entering her freshman year at the University of Arizona, Hedberg is following a path not uncommon for the many children who have witnessed the toll of a chronic disease; she plans to pursue medical research and hopefully find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
“I knew that I was supposed to help those who were thrown into the same turbulent environment as me,” Hedberg reflected.
In addition to the scholarship, AFA Teens has a Web site with information about the disease and a bulletin board for teens to express their thoughts and share experiences with peers, and it is encouraging teens to establish AFA Teens chapters in their communities. For more information, visit www.afateens.org.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of 950 member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses. AFA’s services include a toll-free helpline, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For information, call (Toll-Free Helpline) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
Contact: Carol Steinberg