On Saturday, Nov. 14, people of all ages from the surrounding communities will gather to stand in solidarity and support of one another. They will cry and grin, and cheer together, sharing in the joy that is found in recovery, in hope, in awareness.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), “in the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified.”
A national survey showed that four out of ten people reported that they either suffered or have known someone who has suffered from an eating disorder, and anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
There is a significant lack of funding to combat eating disorders and their devastating consequences. As a result, too many individuals and families are left feeling helpless, hopeless and frightened.
NEDA was founded in 2001 and is the leading 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States advocating on behalf of and supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders.
They campaign for eating disorder prevention, improved access to quality treatment, and increased research funding to better understand and treat eating disorders.
NEDA holds national walks every year to increase awareness of this disease and raise funds which support critical programs and services that work to eliminate eating disorders and improve prevention, treatment, and research.
West Chester NEDA Walk will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14 at East Goshen Park on Paoli Pike with check-in beginning at 9:30 a.m. There will be scheduled speakers, activities, raffles and an after party.
“I really like the NEDA walk because you get to see people with different stories come to support the same cause,” said West Chester BodyPeace Vice President Grace Donovan.
According to NEDA, the featured speakers this year are Natalie Loschiavo, RD, LDN and Kathleen McDonald.
Loschiavo is a WCU graduate and has been working in the field of nutrition for seven years. After working for The Renfrew Center in Radnor, Pa., Loschiavo opened her private practice, Balanced Nutrition, in Frazer, Pa. She believes that wellness and balanced eating is unique to every individual and therefore nutrition goals and interventions will be different for everyone.
The other speaker, MacDonald, is a Health Insurance Advocate at Kantor & Kantor, LLP, and the Director of Social Media & Advocate Relations at the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action (EDC).
Before working in the field of eating disorders, MacDonald took time to fully heal from an 18-year-long battle with chronic dieting, bulimia, anorexia and body image issues.
Between the inspiring speakers, the supportive atmosphere, and the unbreakable camaraderie found at the NEDA walk, showing up warrants a moving experience.
“In all the years I’ve participated in NEDA’s West Chester walk, there’s been a great turnout,” said BodyPeace President Jessica McTaggart. “I’ve enjoyed meeting all the brave people willing to share their stories and give their peers hope.”
The event is scheduled to run until noon. Students and families will be meeting at the Couch Tomato in West Chester following the walk, where a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to NEDA.
Online registration closes at 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13. You can register at http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/neda-walks or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the walk. Information about NEDA can be found on their website www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
Megan Monachino is a fourth-year student majoring in English writing with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at MM783809@wcupa.edu.