Stefanie Kaufman has received a prestigious national award for her efforts to raise awareness about mental illness and suicide prevention.
The senior at W. Tresper Clarke High School in the East Meadow school district is responsible for initiating a community education program called Project LETS, which stands for Let's Erase the Stigma.
Kaufman received the President's Volunteer Service Award based on what the school district called her "demonstrated commitment" to serve others. The award is granted by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.
"There is a real lack of awareness and programs in America that address mental illness and suicide," said Kaufman, 17.
To spread knowledge and information, she coordinates workshops and lectures at regional organizations. She also is working to establish a state-mandated program for teachers to be trained every year on how to deal with students suffering from mental illness and suicidal thoughts.
Kaufman is vice president of her school's student government and a member of the National Honor Society and honor societies in art, math and science. She also is on the girls soccer team and coordinates the school's poetry anthology.