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October 24, 2014

Eating Disorders Coalition’s Lobby Days Roundup

Earlier this month, a few of us from The Emily Program – Cleveland headed down to our nation’s capital to participate in this year’s Eating Disorder Coalition’s National Fall Lobby Days. It sure was an exciting day for all of us in the eating disorder world.

We would like to thank all of you who joined us in representing Ohio and making our voices heard! It’s the most important advocacy event to influence policy on eating disorders in Congress.

The events were a great time and gave us a chance to meet a lot of people all while supporting a great cause,” said Katie Dent of The Emily Program – Cleveland.

The festivities started out with the inaugural M.O.M. (Mothers and Others) March on the west lawn of Capitol Hill the evening prior to Lobby Day. We marched with moms, families, advocates, professionals, and those struggling and recovering from eating disorders to raise awareness on the prevalence, co-morbidities, stigma, and devastating consequences of this mental illness.

It was a great turnout, and the media even showed up to cover the event!

Afterward, we went to a screening of Darryl Roberts’ newest film, “America the Beautiful 3.”

The next morning, we started out in training and messaging sessions to get comfortable before we headed over to the halls of Congress with our team of fellow advocates. Each team, grouped by state, had an experienced leader. Appointments to meet with the senate and house members in our district were made in advance.

Our leader began the conversation while passing out handouts to everyone. From there, members of our team were encouraged to share their personal stories and struggles.

“Some of these people’s stories are so sad,” said Katie. “The number of young lives lost, the amounts of money spent and the years of suffering are heartbreaking.

Our team discussed the issue of BMI (Body Mass Index) testing in our schools, which is mandatory in Ohio. We presented facts about the limited good (if any) it does for kids who may be overweight, but the damage it could cause kids who are predisposed to eating disorders.

“Everyone we spoke with took the time to hear our stories, asked appropriate questions, and promised to pass along the information,” Katie said. “Many of them had their own stories and experiences with eating disorders, too.”

“I really enjoyed it,” she continued. “I met so many great people that care about this for so many reasons and being able to talk directly to those that can make changes is very empowering. In this country, we can make change happen.”

Get help. Find hope.