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For Immediate Release
June 25, 2003

Contact: Elizabeth Adams





Minneapolis Students Earn National Championship

Arlington, VA – Ben Meiches and Josh Garen, students at The Blake School, Minneapolis, won the National Forensic League Championship in NAMI policy debate in Atlanta, GA this weekend. More than 91,000 students from more than 2,600 high schools nationwide competed throughout the 2002-2003 school year to qualify for the annual tournament.

Gregg Fishbein and Katie Kauf were the winning team’s coaches. NAMI, The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness sponsored the policy debate on a topic selected by consensus of the debate coaches: Should the federal government better fund the public mental health system?

"The kids who are in the policy debating have in many ways reached the caliber of super star," said Dr. David Cheshire, professor at Georgia State University, the hosting school. "They debate with such a high degree of technical skill."

NAMI Executive Director Dr. Richard C. Birkel commented on their hard work and high achievements saying, "We do believe it’s up to the young people of America, working side by side with us, to envision the new mental health system and make it happen."

The National Forensic League is a non-partisan, non-profit educational honorary society in Ripon, WI. Alumni include Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer, Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and William Frist (R-TN), Jane Pauley, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Kelsey Grammer and Bette Midler.



As The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness, NAMI leads a national grassroots effort to transform America’s mental health care system, combat stigma, support research, and attain adequate health insurance, housing, rehabilitation, jobs and family support for millions of Americans living with mental illnesses. NAMI’s one thousand affiliates are dedicated to public education, advocacy and support and receive generous donations from tens of thousands of individuals as well as grants from government, foundations and corporations. NAMI’s greatest asset, however, is its volunteers—who donate an estimated $135 million worth of their time each year.


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