Nearly 200 people gathered together on Alumni Quad last Saturday morning for the annual National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) walk, put on by Bradley organization The Body Project.
Many of the walkers were in NEDA T-shirts, visiting tables staffed by representatives from OSF Healthcare, Kappa Delta Sorority and others. More tables provided doughnuts, cookies and fruit, and a water bowl sat prominently by the stage for any canine attendees.
Many of the volunteers held blue balloons with affirming messages on them, provided courtesy of Kappa Delta Sorority, who co-sponsored and provided many volunteers for the event.
“Our whole stand is confidence, and promoting confidence in women … all across the board,” said Copper Clark, sophomore public relations and professional writing double major, and current president of Kappa Delta.
English professor Danielle Glassmeyer, coordinator of The Body Project, got on stage to thank various contributors and award the most successful fundraisers.
Then, speakers told their stories, among them Bradley mental health counselor Lisa Fix-Griffin, OSF health expert Hong Ji and Rebecca Dentino, who shared her own story of her struggle with an eating disorder.
“I just want to share that it’s hard, but it’s worth it,” Dentino said.
Ji led attendees in a set of limbering exercises, and then attendees went on a walk around campus, enjoying the sunshine.
NEDA, founded in 2009, hosts eating-disorder awareness walks in over 95 cities. In fiscal year 2017, they raised over $3.5 million for eating disorder awareness. The Body Project has hosted NEDA walks for the past four years.
The Body Project is an organization dedicated to spreading awareness of all body types and decreasing weight stigma. They were founded at Bradley in 2007 by Bradley sociology professor Jackie Hogan and former wellness director Melissa Sage Bollenbach.
In addition to the NEDA walk, The Body Project hosts workshops and brings in speakers to teach students about body positivity. Their webpages are dedicated to busting myths about weight loss and advocating body acceptance.
“We try to make sure that we have some conversations about the scholarly backing,” Glassmeyer said.“So the activism that we do is based on best practices and [an] identifiable empirical knowledge base. But … the activism side of it … is much more concerned with, I think, health at every size, [and] breaking down the stigma.”
The Bradley NEDA walk was the most well-attended walk so far, according to Glassmeyer, and raised more than $8,000 for eating disorder awareness.