Special to The Sun
For many teenagers, nothing in their lives prepares them for close encounters with an illness that seems so far-removed from their youth — Alzheimer’s disease. Yet the number of teens who witness this brain disorder in their own families or communities continues to grow along with the escalating incidence of Alzheimer’s disease nationwide.
In an effort to highlight teens’ experiences, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is encouraging college-bound students to apply for its sixth annual AFA Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship. The competition is part of AFA’s award-winning AFA Teens division, which is designed to educate and raise awareness among teens about the brain disorder.
AFA will award $5,000 to the winner, and $500 and $250 to the first and second runners-up, respectively. The recipients must apply the award toward first-year tuition at a four-year college or university. The application deadline is Feb. 15. For more details, visit www.afateens.org.
As part of the application process, students must write a 1,200 to 1,500 word essay that gives 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.”
Alzheimer’s disease results in loss of memory, verbal skills and other cognitive functions, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans are currently diagnosed with the disease, and its prevalence is expected to rise in line with the nation’s aging population. While the disease primarily affects people 65 and older, a less common form, young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, strikes people as early as in their 30s.
In addition to the scholarship, AFA Teens features a website with information about the disease, and a blog and bulletin board for teens to express their thoughts and share experiences with peers. It also offers an annual video competition, and encourages teens to establish AFA Teens chapters in their communities. For more information, visit
For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.