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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 23, 2011

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Announces Teens Video Contest Winners

NEW YORK, NY—The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) recently announced the winner and runners-up of its inaugural AFA Teens Video Competition.

Margaret Yan of Orlando, FL was named the 2010 grand prize winner and received a $500 prize, and runners-up Samantha DeMaria, Carmel, IN, and Melissa Phillips, Salisbury, NC, each received a $250 prize.

Offered through the AFA Teens branch, the annual AFA Teens Video Competition is part of AFA’s effort to provide a creative outlet for teenagers coping with Alzheimer’s disease and to engage the younger generation in this important cause. The contest comes as the disease is increasingly taking centerstage: the incidence of the brain disorder is expected to escalate in line with aging baby boomers, and its toll reverberates to multiple family members, including teens who may take on caregiving responsibilities.

The competition asks teens to record a two-minute video that gives thoughtful consideration to “ a moment in relation to Alzheimer’s disease when you learned something about your understanding of the disease, learned something about caregiving, or decided to become a community volunteer/activist.”

Yan’s love for her grandmother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago, inspired her to enter the competition.

“Alzheimer’s disease impacts everyone, not only the one diagnosed with the disease. In my video, I was trying to symbolically capture the hopelessness that a family member or friend might feel once losing their loved one to Alzheimer’s disease,” said the 17-year-old, whose favorite pastimes are making videos and writing poetry.

Both co-runners-up share lessons learned with their videos.

DeMaria said she had a “revelation of sorts” while composing her video.

“I want people to cherish the moments they've had with their loved ones…. Looking at the happy moments I've shared with friends and family has made me realize how precious life is, and that nothing should be taken for granted,” said DeMaria, 18, who lost both a grandmother and grandfather to the disease.

For Phillips, 18, her video illustrates that Alzheimer’s disease should not be taken lightly.

“It makes people lose their relatives long before they physically lose them, and it can be painful. I want people to know that it's not a simple issue. A lot of people I know consider it ‘humorous’ because all they know of it is that it causes slight memory lapses in some, but in reality it can cause individuals to forget entire portions of their lives, family and eventually become violent. Basically, it's no laughing matter, and that's what I'd like people to take from this,” said Phillips, whose grandmother had the disease and passed away while Phillips was in middle school.

All three winning videos have been posted to www.afateens.org.

“These outstanding videos demonstrate the tremendous impact this disease has on young people,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer. “It’s important for teens coping with this disease to express their emotions, whether through a creative competition like this, talking to professionals or finding peer support networks.”

The video competition is one of the many features of AFA’s teen division, which is aimed at educating and engaging youth and connecting them with peers whose family members are affected by the disease. Teens are encouraged to express themselves on a bulletin board, seek support from AFA social workers and set up AFA Teens chapters in their community.

According to a s urvey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and United Hospital Fund, more than one million children nationwide care for sick or disabled parents and grandparents; Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias were the most prevalent illnesses. As many as 5.1 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about AFA Teens, visit www.afateens.org.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national non-profit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a toll-free hot line, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America  866.232.8484
www.alzfdn.org