Monday, January 19, 2009

I want your ideas

Syracuse University, where I teach, has a program called Healthy Mondays. I know, I know; it's a bit silly, really, but the folks who organize Healthy Mondays mean well and may indeed do some good.

Now they're looking for ideas from faculty and students for small projects, and they're giving out small grants to help make those projects reality. I'd like to propose something about eating disorders. My first thought is to suggest a kind of "voices of eating disorders" oral history project, kind of like National Public Radio's wonderful Storycorps project.

I'd love to have your ideas. What, if anything, do you think is worth doing on a college campus?


Rachel said...

If your campus is anything like my campus (University of Cincinnati) and countless others, bolstering mental health services offered to students would be a big benefit. I found our mental health services to be appalling when I sought help for my eating disorder. Perhaps an educational campaign for your campus' health professionals on eating disorders treatment and awareness would be a great way to use the grant monies.

ab said...

There is a similar project on the web called: Stories Told

This project allows people at all stages of recovery to share their story.

For a truley haunting account of the damage caused by Anorexia. I suggest you click Anorexia Stories and then read Heather's Story.

I think that the project should be simple and focus on having students who have eating disorders create an art project or write a journal entry. Then, the projects could be displayed at places where the students experience the greatest anxiety like the dining hall, restroom, or at gym lockers.

My second idea would be to create a buddy or mentor system. Maybe the University could be in charge of pairing up students who have recovered from an eating disorder with someone who is currently suffering from an eating disorder.

mary said...

I think you've got a fantastic idea Harriet. I think anytime the voice of an ED is exposed to light it is weakened!
I'm not sure why but I consider SHAME a worthy topic. Shame can be about all sorts of things but it can be the root of dis-ease. The shames of poverty or being rich, being large or physically challenged, too small, smart, dumb, having to keep secrets, like bulimia or addictions, being gay, on and on are all ways that keep our society sick.
I didn't know if you were seeking more ideas or a "GO" for yours. If so I think you ought to listen to your instincts and go with the ED voice. EXPOSE IT!

Anonymous said...

Pragmatic: Look into the dining hall policy at Syracuse. My college had rules about bringing food out of the dining hall. Eating disorders can make it virtually impossible to eat around other people. If there are rules like that there, advocating for a new policy/purchasing takeout containers would be one project that would make a good, on-the-ground difference.

More macro: Your storycorps-inspired thought could be a great one, as long as there's an effort to avoid presenting them in a way that could be triggering; that is, it's often the people who already suffer, or who are close to someone who does, who'd have the most interest in the fruits of such a project. But yes, again, that could be great, and would involve talents of all different types of students working together to pull off, I think.

all the best.

Anonymous said...

Since you're already doing something on Monday's it would be great to turn it into Mirrorless Monday as well. This has been very successful across the country and entails covering all of the mirrors in butcher paper to remove the focus on physical appearance and place emphasis on positive affirmations. Students should be invited to write positive, non-physical compliments about themselves or their friends on the butcher paper to highlight that You Are More Than What You Weigh.
There are many more ideas at the National Eating Disorders Association website: AND... if any students are interested in working with middle school girls, they should check out the information at This journal has been vetted by the National eating Disorders Association and the authors can help with programming.