But, amidst the pain, many teens expressed optimism.
For example, after Stadelman produced a DVD of photographs depicting her grandmother's life and its viewing, to her surprise, garnered a reaction from her grandmother, the teen gained a new understanding of the disease.
"In that instant, I discovered that everyone has a resilient force, a core, and no matter what happens, it is always there--we just need to tap into it," she wrote in her essay.
AFA established the annual scholarship so that teens could use the opportunity to reflect on the impact Alzheimer's disease has had on them, their families and their communities. It 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 survey 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.
For more information about AFA Teens and to read the winning scholarship essays, visit www.afateens.org.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a nonprofit organization based in New York City that focuses on providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families,
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