FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 2, 2012
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Announces Teens Video Contest Winners
Heartfelt Videos Sound Powerful Messages About Disease’s Impact on Families
NEW YORK, NY—Hannah Schwartz, 18, of Clarksville, TN has witnessed what she calls the kind of love that can only be expressed by a caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, and she has captured that “enduring devotion” in the winning video for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) Teens Video Competition.
AFA announced today that Schwartz is the grand prize winner of the annual contest and will receive a $500 award. The runners-up are Kaylin Saffee of Miami, and Maila Tafua of Laie, HI, who will each receive a $250 prize.
Offered through the AFA Teens branch, the 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 winning videos are posted on www.afateens.org.
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.”
Schwartz’s heartfelt video touches upon the love and devotion of a caregiver; it focuses on how her great-grandfather cared for her great-grandmother who had Alzheimer’s disease for many years. The teen’s win comes just one week after her great-grandmother passed away.
“I wanted this video to portray the hope that a devoted caregiver can bring to a hopeless situation like Alzheimer’s disease,” said Schwartz, who has been home-schooled since second grade and plans to study nutrition in college.
“This disease has affected my whole family in different ways,” she added. “We saw my great-grandmother slowly losing memories, her personality and even words, but we also saw my great-grandfather showing enduring devotion as her caregiver. He carried all their memories.”
One of the runners-up, Tafua, 16, pays tribute in her video to her late grandfather who had Alzheimer’s disease by speaking to the importance of tapping into the personhood of each individual with dementia. She incorporated beautiful footage of the beach, one of their favorite places, to convey her message.
“ When I would feed him, we would watch the surfing channel,” she said. “I would see this look in his eyes and I could just feel that he misses that. I know that he cannot connect to me, but when I go to the beach I can feel his love with me.”
Differently, the other runner-up, Saffe, 17, was prompted by her grandmother’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease to present a call to action in her video. She at times used English subtitles to translate what her grandmother was saying in Spanish on camera.
“Instead of concentrating on the sadness, I made it a point to leave the viewer with a sense of hope and inspiration to stand up and do something about it,” emphasized the teen, who aims for a career in medicine.
Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer, noted that the winning videos, as well as others submitted in the contest, “demonstrate how Alzheimer’s disease has a powerful impact on young people. Their heartfelt messages bring to life the emotions surrounding this disease and showcase the importance of speaking out about the experience to help other teens who might be going through a similar journey.”
The video competition is one of the many features of the AFA Teens 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, and the incidence is skyrocketing as the population faces a greater risk of the disease with advanced age.
For more information about AFA Teens, visit www.afateens.org.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals with dementia, their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free helpline, e-mail, Skype and live chat; 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.
Contact: Carol Steinberg