Students and community members unite to walk for eating disorder awareness

Students and community members unite to walk for eating disorder awareness

Students and community members unite to walk for eating disorder awareness
March 05
11:02 2018

More than 300 people gathered Saturday morning at UNT’s Pohl Recreation Center to take part in the second annual National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk in Denton. This year’s walk raised over $7,000 for NEDA, which is nearly double the amount raised from last year’s walk, organizers said.

The event was coordinated by Steffanie Grossman and a team of others from UNT’s Counseling and Testing Services and Health and Wellness Center — including Kristina Clevinger and Danielle Goemets. Student and community volunteers helped organize the event.

“This is something that is very near and dear to my heart,” Grossman said. “Eating disorders are something that impact not just the person with the eating disorder but also their loved ones.”

Grossman said it is likely that about 7,400 of UNT’s students have eating disorders and more than twice that number have symptoms.

“When you think about that number, and how deadly it is, how trapping it can be and how it takes away your freedom, that becomes just a really, really large and impactful number,” Grossman said.

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Nicole Clark writes why she walks at the National Eating Disorder Association walk Saturday morning. There were tables set up that were made up of this, tattoos, photobooth props and many more interactive and inspiring hands-on activities.

[Photos by Kathryn Jennings]

More than twice as many participants walked this year compared to 2017, Grossman said.

Annetta Ramsay of the eating disorder program Chrysalis provided participants with statistics about eating disorders before the 1-mile walk began.

“Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness at about 5 percent, which may not sound bad until you realize that’s one in 20, so it’s really serious,” Ramsay said. “It’s vital that people understand that eating disorders are not choices that people make and they’re actually not rare.”

The event was the conclusion to a weeklong effort to raise awareness of eating disorders on behalf of the university called “Love Yo’ Self Week.” Events throughout the week included body positivity exercise classes, mindful eating tables and art therapy designed for eating disorders.

The title “Love Yo’ Self” was created this year in a creative collaboration with students at the Health and Wellness Center. The week was previously called Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Participants were able to organize teams and those teams collaborated to help raise money.

Public relations and sociology junior Kayla Padol was the leader of Team Rise Up, which consisted of her and 10 friends and raised $75 for the cause.

“I’m personally in recovery for an eating disorder right now so it was kind of emotional and exciting to have my friends come out and support me during my time of getting back to where I need to be,” Padol said. “I just think there’s such a stigma around eating disorders that they don’t get talked about enough. People don’t realize, sometimes, that they even have an eating disorder when they do and it’s really important to get information out about what eating disorders are and how serious they are.”

Journalism education sophomore Sara Vaughn was one of the friends present to support Padol.

“We know a lot of people on campus that struggle with eating disorders and it’s really important to come out and show support because it’s hard to do it alone,” Vaughn said. “So just to be there for other people, it’s really impactful.”

Team Rise Up was one of several that consisted of friend groups coming together to support one another in their individual battles with eating disorders. This was also the case with Team Warriors; Survivors, which included several people in recovery along with their friends.

“I’m here in support of my friend Idianna and all our friends, actually, and everyone here,” said Cooper Turrubiarte, business finance junior and Warriors; Survivors team member.

There were also numerous tables with representatives from recovery-related on-campus organizations and student services, including Project Heal and To Write Love on Her Arms.

“People talk about dieting and having a beach body and about how you should always be losing weight and things of that sort, as opposed to [saying] love yourself, be happy with yourself and everything’s OK in moderation and you’re beautiful as is,” Grossman said. “People normalize disordered eating, and I think my hope with [the walk] is that people see that that’s not necessarily the life you need to live, that you can be at peace with food, and you can be at peace with yourself and also striving to be healthy.”

Featured Image: Participants walking for National Eating Disorders Association Saturday morning in Denton. Kathryn Jennings

About Author

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel is currently the News Editor at the North Texas Daily, and previously served as a staff writer from June 2017 to May 2018.

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