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State Honoree

Lindsay Stewart

Pennsylvania

Lindsay Stewart, 17, of Windber, Pa., a senior at Forest Hills High School in Sidman, created a program to educate students, teachers and her community about mental illness. Inspired by an aunt afflicted with schizophrenia and the volunteer efforts of her family, Lindsay wanted to promote understanding of biologically based brain disorders such as depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia, and promote tolerance of individuals who suffer from them. “Statistically, one in ten people has a mental illness,” Lindsay said. “Many who suffer do not receive treatment because of fear and ignorance, and the consequences of not getting help can be tragic.” Lindsay first worked to convince skeptical school administrators that a sensitive subject such as mental illness could be presented effectively to high school students. Then, with the help of her school’s Humanitarian Club, she developed an 80-minute program that included guest speakers, dramatic skits, poetry, artwork and empathy exercises. “The result was a huge success,” Lindsay said. Over the past three years, the program has been presented to the entire junior and senior classes at her high school, exposing more than 500 students to Lindsay’s message.