FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 21, 2013
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Announces Teens Video Contest Winners
NEW YORK, NY – One teen suggests using laughter to help cope with the daily challenges of Alzheimer’s disease; another challenges people to “get out of their comfort zone” and “walk with their loved one” with the brain disorder. These are the compelling and heartfelt messages relayed in the winning videos for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) third annual AFA Teens Video Competition.
The contest 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.
AFA today announced that Alex Klein, 16, of Dayton, NJ, is the 2012 grand prize winner, and Selah Burnett, 18, Bonham, TX, took the runner-up spot. Each will receive $500 and $250 awards respectively. 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.”
Through his video, Klein captures how Alzheimer’s disease has transformed his wonderful and selfless grandmother, who was diagnosed with the brain disorder four years ago—and shows how laughter has helped his family “weaken the curse.”
“Our motto is you can either laugh, or you can cry,” said Klein, a junior at South Brunswick High School and an aspiring filmmaker and screenwriter. “Sometimes, when we laugh, it’s the only thing that can bring a piece of my grandma back, even for a short time…Often, when we laugh, she laughs, making us feel like the hex has been temporarily defeated.”
After learning that he was awarded the top prize, Klein said, “I would like other teens to know that it is really important to enjoy as much time as they possibly can with their loved one, and interact with them as much as possible. They may express their feelings differently than they used to, but it is still important to show them how much you love them.”
Burnett made a video in memory of her grandmother, Glenda Bland, who lived with the brain disorder for seven years and passed away almost two years ago at the age of 78.
After the teen’s grandmother moved into the Clyde Cosper State Veterans Home Memory Unit in Bonham, Burnett and her family would sing songs for the residents. “It was as if the music of their past opened a small door to their memories,” she said in her film.
“Alzheimer’s disease might have taken away her memory, but it did not take away her spirit. She always kept a smile on her face,” said the home-schooled high school senior, who continues to volunteer at the long-term care facility and plans to study youth ministry in college next fall.
Further, Burnett hopes her video will pass on other valuable lessons, especially to other teens.
“My challenge to you is to walk with your loved one through Alzheimer’s, no matter how hard it is, and let your memories of them guide you,” she said.
Carol Steinberg, AFA’s acting CEO, said the winners “speak to the emotional aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and emphasize how every family must find their own personal way to cope with the changes in their loved ones. Their powerful stories will surely resonate among other teens in similar situations and encourage them to share stories of their own.”
Alzheimer’s disease, which results in loss of memory and other cognitive functions, currently affects an estimated 5.1 million Americans, and its incidence is expected to triple by mid-century. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation.
The video competition is one of 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. For more information, 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 confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, 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 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
Photos available upon request.
Contact: Joana Casas