by Kayla Lupedee
To honor Eating Disorder Awareness (EDA) Week, University of Tampa’s student-led organization, ActiveMinds is hosting an EDA event on Monday, March 2 to spread awareness and break the stigma of eating disorders through informational activities. The activities will take place in Vaughn Courtyard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Several other UT organizations, such as Delta Phi Epsilon (DPhiE) and Healing Arts, will be joining ActiveMinds in spreading awareness.
The activity ActiveMinds is holding is named Pop the Stigma. Balloons will be propped up against a table and students will pop the balloon with a pencil to reveal a piece of paper with a written stigma or stereotype regarding eating disorders.
“After the balloon is popped, the students will have a one minute conversation with whoever is leading the activity about why it’s a stereotype and what action steps we can take to keep breaking, or popping, that stigma,” said Julia Staiano, senior allied health/occupational therapy major and president of ActiveMinds.
Other educational resources will be displayed on tables, along with music and food for students to enjoy as they learn.
An anonymous sophomore business management major who has suffered from an eating disorder said bringing awareness to the subject is extremely important.
“From personal experience, it’s important to be gentle with whoever has an eating disorder or mental health problems,” said the anonymous student. “A lot of the time it’s usually out of your control so it’s not good to push them, but knowing they have your support is super important to get through it. I can tell this event will be beneficial to everyone.”
Staiano has also seen several loved one’s experience eating disorders. She hopes that by bringing attention to the severity of the topic, other students could be more helpful in these situations.
“From someone watching others go through this, it is very heartbreaking because you don’t always know what to do,” said Staiano. “The most you can do to help is build up that courage to ask ‘Hey, are you okay? What can I do to help?’ and not avoiding the subject as if it’s something shameful.”
ActiveMinds promotes mental health and spreads awareness to UT students. The events they create, such as the EDA event, are typically surrounded by research and resources on serious topics but remain light and fun with interactive activities, according to Staiano.
To ensure a variety of awareness is raised, each organization at the EDA event will have different colored pieces of paper. Students will collect each color of the activities they participate in and will be entered into a raffle to win a $50 Daily Eats gift card.
Autumn Hart, freshman environmental science major and DPhiE’s vice president of programming, said the sorority has a close relationship to the struggles of eating disorders, as one of their philanthropies is the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).
“Our sisters promote healthy relationships with one’s body, as several of us struggle with body positivity in this day and age,” said Hart.
DPhiE’s activity will be a jeopardy game with facts about ANAD and statistics regarding eating disorders.
The president of DPhiE, Erin Hanson, a junior and business management major, said the sorority is excited to participate in the event.
“Events like this provide a more comfortable space for others to talk about these types of things, which may be difficult to do otherwise,” said Hanson.
Staiano said the EDA event also took place last year with a big turnout of students and success. She hopes ActiveMinds continues doing the event each year because it serves a strong educational purpose.
Kayla Lupedee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org