Rebekah Purvis, a recent graduate from Houston High School, is one of seven Missouri students to win the 13th annual Project 21 Scholarship competition sponsored by the Missouri Gaming Association.
Purvis won the award based on her article, which detailed the development of the brain and the scientific reasons why gambling is dangerous for those under 21 years of age. The article was read to health classes at Houston High School to help educate other students.
“The portion of your brain that controls risk and impulse doesn’t fully develop until you are 25,” said Purvis. “I didn’t realize that until I started doing research.”
Purvis will receive a $1,000 scholarship toward tuition at Park University. She plans to pursue a degree in psychology and a career in counseling. She is the editor of the Houston Literary Society.
The Project 21 Scholarship was developed to promote awareness among young people about underage gambling. In Missouri, it’s illegal for persons under the age of 21 to gamble in a casino. The competition is open to all Missouri high school seniors planning to attend an institution of higher education in the United States within four years of graduation.
The students were asked to create an essay, poster or video that would educate their peers about the illegality and dangers of underage gambling. The entries must have been published or viewed in the students’ high schools in January or February of the contest year.
The Missouri Gaming Association awards two $1,500 scholarships and four $1,000 scholarships, jointly issued to the winners and the accredited institutions of higher education they select.
“The Missouri casino industry is dedicated to education in our state, both through the education funding from gaming tax revenues and through awareness efforts like Project 21,” said Mike Winter, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association. “Our experience is that young people are most affected by messages delivered by their peers. Project 21 encourages students to learn about the issues of underage gambling and to share that information with peers.”