Awareness Activities Building a Recovery Village in Your CommunityAwareness Activities Building a Recovery Village in Your Community

Looking out on a sea of about 200 faces at the Baltimore National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk on October 11th, it was clear just how much community means in the fight against eating disorders. Participants gathered in a small town square in a suburb of Baltimore, and they ranged from suffering to recovered, mothers, fathers, siblings, children, and friends. All came to walk for something that gives them hope, and all were walking for someone they know who fell prey to an eating disorder. As the program began and the speakers, three young women in recovery, took the stage to share their stories, tears began to fall on the faces in the crowd. Recovery is possible, was the overwhelming message. The women standing here speaking are living proof of that fact.

Recovery Takes a Village

Eating disorder recovery is hard to do alone. From treatment teams that reflect physical, psychological, and nutritional components to family engagement and awareness, it takes a lot of people to support someone in recovery. It also highlights the importance of community events like NEDA Walks. Designed to utilize the substantial resources NEDA provides and engage communities at a grassroots level, NEDA Walks can be organized by anyone aged 18 or older who commits to the planning and organizing process. In Baltimore, the walk has been hosted for the past several years by the Eating Disorder Network of Maryland, a nonprofit that focuses on providing access to information about local and national treatment options and hosting annual awareness events in local communities. Bringing together those suffering from eating disorders, families, friends, and professionals begins a dialogue of support and builds the village necessary for lasting recovery.

Stories of Hope

For people in the throes of an eating disorder, finding motivation from within is often difficult. Speakers at the NEDA walk range from nationally-known individuals to local people in recovery who want to share their story to help others. At the Baltimore NEDA Walk this year, the speakers were adolescent women who had spent their young lives battling body image issues and low self-esteem. Finally seeking treatment and realizing that life on the other side of an eating disorder can be full of hope and peace was the catalyst for recovery for these young women. Even as they shared their stories, tentatively at first then growing stronger, we were reminded of how early recovery begins. It is fragile and timid but as health and confidence grow it becomes stronger, fearless. No doubt these stories of hope have the potential to inspire others to try recovery.

Interested in Getting Involved?

If you would like to host a NEDA Walk in your community, contact the National Walk Manager and begin the planning process.