A good conference is all about inspiring talks, expanding your knowledge base, and making good connections. This years NEDA conference in Washington D.C. accomplished this and many other great things. The government shutdown and pouring rain did not hinder the spirit and hope of the hundreds of people who attended the conference. Professionals, researchers, educators, people in recovery and their families traveled from all over the country to connect, share, and learn from one another.
Something For Everyone
The conference’s sessions were divided into 6 tracks. All the talks seemed so interesting that I sometimes had to do eenie meenie minie mo to choose which one to go to.
- Family Basics
- Diversity & Special Issues
- Co-Occurring Conditions
- NEDA Hosted
Lobby Day Despite the government shutdown and rainy weather hundreds of passionate lobbyists marched to Capitol Hill and met with members of Congress to educate them about eating disorders and urge them to support eating disorder legislation. If this sounds interesting to you, there are many opportunities outside of Lobby Day to make a difference. Solutions Through Advocacy & Reform (STAR) Program, a NEDA program, run by amazing volunteers helps increase awareness of eating disorders, gain funding for important programs and advocate for early intervention nationwide.
Advocates NEDA offers a very unique conference experience because it goes beyond just the latest research and science in the field and unites people with all different connections to eating disorders. One important group that was represented in strong numbers were advocates of recovery. I was proud to be amongst so many amazing people representing Recovery Warriors and the Rise Up: Overcome Your Eating Disorder app. Recovery is possible and there was a lot of living proof at the conference.
Great Organizations at the Conference
Scholarships & Volunteerism NEDA awarded scholarships to attend the conference and gave generous discounts to volunteers. For many, attending the conference would not have been possible without these financial breaks. I actually got to have lunch with a Recovery Warrior and got to know her on a more personal level. Not to my surprise, she is a beautiful, motivated, compassionate, sensitive, and goal-oriented woman. In my experience, whenever you strip the eating disorder away from a person a radiant being is always beneath with so many gifts to share with the world.
Family Involvement Parents were very open sharing their heartaches and struggles. I was most impressed with a conversation I had with father Don Blackwell over his experience of having a daughter come close to death’s door and successfully recover. He authored the book Dear Ashley: A Father’s Reflections and Letters to His Daughter on Life, Love, and Hope. After listening to him articulate his experience so well, this is one book I can’t wait to read!
Media Literacy Almost every talk I sat in mentioned in one way or another the cultural and societal pressures to conform to a certain body image and the negative role it plays in perpetuating eating disorders. “Media literate” is a term used to describe the act of being a conscious consumer and creator of content. Dissecting media images and messages for what they really are and understanding their intention is an important and helpful skill to have and practice on a daily basis. The video below is a parody of Photoshop and uses humor to encourage us to be more mindful of the medias messages.
Next year the NEDA conference will be in San Antonio, Texas October 16-18. I hope to see ya’ all there!