Tag Archive for Advocacy

Supporting The Emily Program Foundation

Our Community Educator Shares her Experience with Our Work, and Why Your Support Matters.
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Caring is the first step to making a difference in our area of work!

Why I Care

Advocating for mental health and promoting positive body image has always been important to me. Before I even considered starting my year of service with the Foundation, I researched unrealistic beauty standards and their influences on how we see people, including ourselves. At work I talk about harmful expectations of our bodies nearly every day, and my growing understanding of the mind-body connection is that it’s interrelated. One affects the other for better or worse. I’ve known this fact for a long time, and now I’m educating others about eating disorders, a mental illness that directly impacts both.

Having learned so much as a Community Educator for the Foundation, I’ve been hyper-aware of how people around me talk about their bodies. I find it empowering when friends open up to me about their own experiences; one because they trust me, and two because sharing stories related to mental illness helps reduce stigma. Hearing stories from strangers elicits further recognition that as a society we have an unhealthy relationship with food and our bodies. One of these conversations particularly stands out:

While at a community event, a group of adolescents came up to talk with me. The oldest explained the difficulty of accepting her body’s shape. She told me she would skip meals and constantly exercise. She said her siblings teased her because she wasn’t as thin as them. She couldn’t have been older than 14.

Listening to her struggles evoked two emotions: sadness for what this smart, lovely young girl of color was going through, and gratitude that she chose to share that with me.

Now be honest, were you initially picturing a white girl? She was also wearing a hijab. Does that change your perception of eating disorders? I ask because oftentimes we overlook the fact that eating disorders affect anyone of any age, race, gender, socioeconomic background, and religion.

Eating disorders are prevalent, and they affect two things we live with every day: our minds and our bodies. Caring about mental health means encouraging self-care in others and supporting organizations such as The Emily Program Foundation that enable individuals to do so.

Why Your Support Matters

Half of all people know someone with an eating disorder.

-National Eating Disorder Association

The story I shared above is not an isolated experience. Reports from the National Eating Disorder Association show eating disorders affect at least 70 million individuals worldwide. Almost half of those people are American, including 200,000 Minnesotans. In a MN student survey, we learned that at least 11% of MN high school students have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, and 52% of adolescent girls along with 23% of adolescent boys experience disordered eating in Minnesota. And eating disorders don’t just affect our children. The fastest growing segment of the population being diagnosed with eating disorders is middle-aged women, and 30% of men in the U.S. have an eating disorder. I could go on about the statistics of individuals being directly impacted by eating disorders, but above all, what summons your support is the fact that half of all people know someone experiencing disordered eating. It’s also important to remember that people suffering from eating disorders oftentimes cannot get better without the support of others. In other words, we are all in this together.

 

 

 

 

Written by Liz Parroquin

 

 

Kitty Westin TEDx Talk

We are all affected by mental illness, and we all have to do our part to make it ok to talk about, to seek treatment, and restore the peace, health, dignity and hope for the millions of people who suffer.

Watch Kitty Westin’s Tedx Talk below.

 

Experiencing Advocacy Day in 2017

By Caroline Kinskey

edc carolineI traveled alone for the first time to attend EDC Advocacy Day in Washington D.C.  I was nervous to be flying and traveling alone, but also excited and incredibly grateful that The Emily Program Foundation provided me with this opportunity to advocate for those suffering with eating disorders.

After breakfast and chatting with other advocates on Capitol Hill, Amy Klobuchar gave the opening address. She was inspiring, and I am proud to live in a state that has a senator who passionately advocates for the eating disorders community. Message training followed, which informed the advocates of the goals for the day, approach strategies in telling our personal stories, and knowing what we need of the people of Congress. Specifically, we need Congress to recognize National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and urge the CDC to re-include eating disorder surveillance questions in national surveillance surveys. The team from Minnesota met with five congressional staffers. The staffers were very receptive, and it was evident that our meetings and personal stories made a difference. EDC Advocacy Days have made a marked impact in the past, and they continue to influence policy on Capitol Hill regarding eating disorders. Although there has been change, our work is not done.

Through this experience, I realized how fortunate I am to live in a country where your voice matters and is caroline edcinfluential.

When enough people speak up, change can happen at a federal level.

It was inspiring to hear people who have recovered from their eating disorders tell their personal stories and pay it forward by advocating for others still struggling. As a graduate student in clinical psychology who wants to work with individuals with eating disorders, contribute to the research, and continue to be an advocate, this experience was invaluable.

Eating Disorders Coalition Advocacy Day 2017

On April 5th, 2017 The Emily Program Foundation and scholarship recipients traveled to Washington D.C. for the Eating Disorders Coalition’s National Advocacy Day. Below are the reflections of our award recipients from their first experiences on The Hill.

Award Recipient Jamie Margetta:

This past week I was given the privilege to attend the Eating Disorders Coalition Day on the Hill. I was graciously awarded a scholarship from the Emily Program Foundation to fund my travels to Washington, D.C. to advocate alongside EDC members who are as passionate as I am about eating disorder advocacy. I expected to walk away with a new experience and a sense of accomplishment from advocating, but I ended up walking away with so much more. My experience at EDC’s Advocacy Day was eye opening, exciting, educating, and overall an experience I won’t soon forget. I was given the Jamie, Jillian and Molly opportunity to meet with House and Senate representatives and express my passion to eating disorder research, early intervention, and education. It was very empowering to be able to express not only my passion on this subject, but why others should care. Presenting fact sheets, personal stories, and evidence that eating disorders matter and they need help was very gratifying. I am so thankful the Emily Program Foundation gave me the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and truly express my concerns and needs for the eating disorder community. I met the most amazing group of people and learned so much from the advocates. This is definitely an experience I will not forget, and I am so grateful I was able to advocate on behalf of friends, family, and loved ones who have experienced the challenges of an eating disorder. Your voice matters!

 

Award Recipient Molly Britt:

As a university undergrad, I did not believe that I could make a difference in the political world without any experience. My experience at the 2017 EDC Advocacy Day completely changed my view of that. While working alongside women and men of all ages, I got to meet with congressional staffers and spread the word about the importance of eating disorders and how the political Molly Britt and Emilyworld could help. It was the first Advocacy Day since the passing of the 21st Century Cures Act which was the first time in history that specific language regarding eating disorders was written into policy. Our mission was to prompt the members of congress to put this policy into action. I was overwhelmed by the support that so many of these staffers conveyed toward our cause and felt as though I was really making a difference. To top of the great day, I got to hear Amy Klobuchar – one of Minnesota’s senators and a driving force for eating disorder policy – speak and thank us for all our hard work. This day has motivated me to participate more in policy change surrounding eating disorders and all other mental health causes.

VANTAGE Student Experience – A Blog Series

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Background Information –

Between October – December, 2016 The Emily Program Foundation worked with two student groups enrolled in an advanced professional studies program called VANTAGE through Minnetonka Public Schools. This partnership aimed to create a meaningful and professional learning opportunity for the students in VANTAGE as they completed quality, useable products for the Foundation. The Digital Journalism group created an educational video on eating disorders for teens while the Health Sciences team created a research report with a data analysis on teen’s experiences with their own body image, media influences and knowledge of eating disorders. This team also shared their learning experiences through a three-series blog posting, please see their reflections on what they learned through this process.

We have come to part three in the VANTAGE Student’s three-part blog series. You have now learned about the students and their research experience. Now is the time where you get to learn what they found in their research.

Data Analysis

Now that our data collection was complete it was time to analyze the results and compile our findings into our final presentation. From our research, we discovered that the majority of teenagers with eating disorders are female. However, this was not surprising to us due to our knowledge prior to this project. 9.1% of teenagers surveyed were unsure if they had an eating disorder. This is interesting because this suggests that they were not educated on the matter. Overall this statistic makes it seem as though teenagers need to have more education in school so that they can know if they suffer from an eating disorder. When asked if appearance was important to them, almost 50% of the participants chose a 4 on a scale of 1-5 (5 being very important); this tells us that body image is what these teenagers are constantly thinking about. Social media isn’t helping this cause; we found that 62.2% agreed that social media influences the way they think about themselves. From that, the ones who spend 3 or more hours on social media per day compare themselves to models, who do not portray the average American body. When asked which social media outlet was the most influential, Instagram and Snapchat won by a longshot. This tells us that there needs to be specific posts on these two applications that show positivity about body image. Social media should be a motivating and positive atmosphere that doesn’t make teenagers question their body image.