NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - February 10, 2014) - Alexis Brown, 17, of Jacksonville Fla., likens her great-grandmother's experience with Alzheimer's disease to "being trapped behind glass and screaming to get out, but not knowing quite how…" Her dramatic depiction of this and other ramifications of the brain disorder has netted her the top prize in the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's (AFA) "Teens for Alzheimer's Awareness" video competition.
Brown's 92-year-old great-grandmother, Melissa Turner, of Talladega, Ala., was the inspiration for her prize-winning video, "Freedom." The video is posted on www.afateens.org.
"I have seen first-hand the progression of the disease and how hard it has been for my great-grandmother," said Brown, who was awarded $500. "It's a really big deal -- forgetting makes the person with the disease anxious, and it's really hard for the family to relate and understand what that person is going through."
Asked what she recommends for coping with the situation, Brown said, "All you can do is continue to love and support them."
AFA's annual video contest asks teens, 13-19 years old, to create a two-minute video that illustrates a moment in which they learned something about their understanding of Alzheimer's disease or caregiving, or decided to become a community volunteer/activist.
Brown, a senior at Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville, Fla., has long used art -- from poetry to film -- as a means of sharing her unique world view with others. Representative of her interest in health care, she shadowed neurologists and other doctors as an intern at the University of Florida Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla., and she plans to pursue a career as a neuroscientist or microbiologist.
Currently, an estimated five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, and the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century. Because of this, a growing number of teens are impacted by the disease, with many serving as caregivers for loved ones.
The video competition is one of the many initiatives offered by AFA Teens, an award-winning division of AFA that educates and engages teens in awareness and advocacy activities. Other programs include a college scholarship essay competition -- with applications due February 15 each year; local chapters where teens can interact with peers, volunteer, and hone their leadership skills; an online community; support groups; and access to AFA's network of resources, including counseling by licensed social workers. For more information, visit www.afateens.org.
About Alzheimer's Foundation of America
: 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, staffed by licensed social workers; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training, along with teen- and college student-specific divisions. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484, visit www.alzfdn.org, follow us on Twitter, and "like" us on Facebook.