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May 14, 2014

Working Together Toward an Intentional Purpose

By Sarah Hrudka, The Emily Program Outreach Specialist

It’s no secret that in the vessel of body image and eating disorders, media, and therefore society is a prominent influence. Often, we only see its effects from the scope of our own city or region, but my recent trip to Boston has flagrantly reminded me that these issues bare no mind to any one region. Moreover, when we are not educating and creating awareness, the result is wayward behavior on behalf of something that people simply cannot grasp, but that is where ‘power of the masses’ can come in to alleviate the chatter.

Tirelessly and passionately, Dawn Hynes of Hynes Recovery Center has been planning the first-ever Walk Toward Recovery, taking place at Nickerson Field in Boston. Rallying treatment centers and providers from all along the East coast (and Minnesota!), she created an event that could speak volumes about why awareness and advocacy are so crucial. The commodious landscape and energy of the city of Boston was enough in and of itself to light the fire within any individual, but the gathering of people from all walks of life, experiences, and cities, all for the inherent reason of educating and congregating for support, was emblematic all it’s own.

The evening before the walk, Dawn organized a reception that was hosted at Dr. Kate Ackerman’s home. Dr. Ackerman, who is a lead researcher and doctor at Mass General Hospital’s Neuroendocrine Unit, as well as Co-Director of the Female Athlete Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, graciously opened her home to us. We spent the evening getting to know each other and each other’s passion for this work. The energy and allegiance to supporting those who are struggling with an eating disorder and any mental illness were palpable, and I quickly realized how rare and special this opportunity was to be under one roof with all of these individuals. It was said several times during the weekend in Boston and has echoed into every day since then as I am out in the community: “We’re all here for the same reason, and we’re all here to help each other in order to serve the public. There is room for everyone.” Never have I heard words with more conviction at their roots. It was a true honor to attend on behalf of The Emily Program and all that we stand for, as well as meet the other incredible people who are doing the work for the same, intentional purpose.

While this may have been the first annual Walk Toward Recovery, there was nothing rudimentary about it. Dawn Hynes struck the match, with a humble vigor, and the community ran with it and continues to keep it ignited. I suppose that was my biggest takeaway of it all, in fact. Whether you are in an urban area with access to help, or in a less developed community and resources are null, you still have a choice. You have a voice powerful enough to be heard, and you too can cultivate compassion and awareness that is contagious. No matter what our outside sources tell us and the wavering of information, one thing we know to be true is that the journey towards recovery is real and viable. And if my short stint on a different coast was any indication, we’re all in this thing together—regardless of your zip code.

Get help. Find hope.