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The Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital is sponsoring an academic and art competition designed to decrease the stigma of mental illness.  The BrainDance Awards encourage students to gain knowledge about psychiatric diseases and develop a more tolerant and realistic perspective toward people with severe psychiatric problems. The competition also aims to promote students’ interest in careers in mental health care.

To receive a BrainDance Award, a student must submit either an academic or art project on themes related to severe mental illness. The projects can be in any format, including research studies, reviews, essays, paintings, poems or short stories.

Students can choose to compete in either the art or academic competition.  An award of $1000 will be given to the best overall submission. Awards up to $1000 may be given to the best projects.  Students submission is the art and academic competitions are judged separately.

Mikala Frank, 2013 Second Place Winner, Creative Expression
(2nd from right, with Dr. Mathew Kurtz and Nancy E. Hubbard, LCSW)



Brighid Kelley, 2013 Third Place Winner, Creative Expression
(2nd from right, with Dr. Mathew Kurtz and Nancy E. Hubbard, LCSW)



Matthew Freed, 2013 Second Place Winner, Mixed Media
(2nd from right, with Dr. Mathew Kurtz and Nancy E. Hubbard, LCSW)



Dezera Pepin, 2013 First Place Winner Scientific
(Presenting her project at the 10th annual BrainDance Awards Ceremony)



Four of the 2013 BrainDance Winners, from left to right, (Dr. Mathew Kurtz, Molly Stadnicki, Amanda Newlan, Heather Strong, Dezera Pepin, Nancy, E. Hubbard, LCSW, and Dr. Godfrey Pearlson)

BrainDance Awards Celebration:
All applicants, their teachers, families and classmates will be invited to a research day hosted by The Institute of Living on May 30, 2013. This day is designed to be an educational extension opportunity and will include: a lecture by a national expert on mental illness, an awards presentation, a visit to a museum on the history of mental health care, and a tour of a neuro-imaging research center.  The overall winner and the first place winners in the art and science categories will present brief lectures summarizing their projects.  All other applicants will be encouraged to present a poster describing their project.  The student lectures and poster presentations are designed so that all participants can cite their BrainDance projects on future school or job applications

The awards are coordinated by: Nancy Hubbard, LCSW, and Godfrey Pearlson, M.D., Director, Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center.

For more information:
contact Nancy Hubbard, LCSW at 860-545-7098, email:,
or download this brochure



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