PHELPS – Phelps High School seniors Audrea and Andrea Smith were recognized Thursday, May 16, as recipients of an “I Am UNITE” scholarship.

Scholarship-Phelps2This is the first year for the scholarships, valued at $1,500 each.

The Smiths were presented the scholarships by Ashley Shepherd, UNITE coalition coordinator.

A total of 19 “I Am UNITE” scholarships were given this year by the UNITE Foundation, funded through private donations and proceeds from two National Rx Drug Abuse Summits.

To receive a scholarship and be named a UNITE Ambassador, students had to demonstrate commitment to their school’s UNITE Club or Camp UNITE, personal contributions to his or her school and community, exemplify UNITE’s goals by living a drug-free lifestyle, and write an essay.

“The UNITE Club is a great way to show your school that it needs to be free from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs,” Andrea wrote in her essay. “The UNITE Club also helps youth develop healthy attitude and behaviors by learning and practicing life skills, enhancing academic performance, connecting with peers, adults, communities, and also learning through service.”

The scholarship also comes with a desktop award naming the recipient a “UNITE Ambassador,” a reminder to keep inspiring others each day of their lives.

This school year there were 118 UNITE Clubs with more than 9,500 student members in 26 counties – the largest number of participants since the initiative began in 2005.

“Someone dies every 15 minutes of a drug-related overdose. Ensuring that every person in every community understands the dangers posed by prescription drugs, and what to do when a loved one struggles with an addiction, is one of UNITE’s top priorities,” Shepherd said. “UNITE believes that prevention, particularly among our youth, is the best way to reduce drug use and its deadly consequences.”