Some elected officials have begun to focus on eating disorders as more young people are suffering from esteem issues. Think it’s not really an issue? If someone you’re related to doesn’t have an eating disorder, then someone you know probably does. It wasn’t always like that. Eating disorders are becoming more and more common as advertising and television tells us who and what is beautiful. Add to that the explosion of social networking sites, where people share photos with the world, and you have a real reason to feel self conscious.
Self image disorders are no longer relegated to young women. 1 in 10 people that are reported as having an eating disorder are men. Kristina Saffran of Douglaston, along with two friends Becky Allen and Liana Rosenman, started Project HEAL (www.theprojectheal.org) in order to raise money for young people with eating disorders. The goal of this organization is to help place people that want help with eating disorders in treatment facilities.
This is by no means a make-shift vanity group for these young women to put on their resume. Project HEAL was incorporated in May of 2008, and they are now pending 501-c3 status. They have already placed people in facilities due to their ability to tap funding streams.
Project HEAL is planning a dress sale in Douglaston on Saturday May 23rd between the hours of 2pm -5pm, at The Douglaston Club. The group focuses on three types of eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eaters. These three women met and became friends when they were hospitalized with eating disorders. They decided a year ago to help other people with esteem issues.
Legislatively, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (New York AD 51) has been pretty active in starting The Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders, which has a 24 Hour Toll Free Hotline: 1-888-747-4727. New Jersey State Senator Joe Vitale is helping to launch STAR (States for Treatment, Access, and Research). Vitale wants medical professionals to be trained and familiar with eating disorders. He also wants to see health care organizations recognize eating disorders as real illnesses.
Eating disorders are often about empowerment, or the false sense of it. “You want control over your body, so you think that by controlling your weight, you are exercising control – but it really is a lack of control”, says Saffran. What eating disorders do is similar to depression – it takes the individual out of their lives. Suddenly a person that was very focused on their career or schooling is now obsessed with how they feel about their identity.
A few years ago, I became good friends with Ben Kramer of Vancouver. Ben was autistic, as well as a mountain climber, photographer, and a marathon swimmer. Like these young women, Ben raised awareness and money for his cause. He stayed at my apartment one weekend and wound up telling me that he suffered from depression. He told me was on medication, and that if he had not gotten help, he never would have accomplished such amazing things, such as swimming around Manhattan (21 miles non-stop) for 16 years in a row. He got himself back on track, and his life became incredible.
Project HEAL aims to get people back on track. Visit their website, and you will be able to read about the experiences of the three founders. They openly tell their story, and they openly wish to help you if you need it. The three of them are around seventeen years old, and they run a completely professional organization. Here is hoping you never need the help of Project HEAL, but also that you will help them in their mission.