Chestnut Hill Local (Philadelphia, PA)
“We are fighting a public health epidemic,” said Carolyn Rammel, executive director of A Chance to Heal. “We must be constantly nimble and find new ways to combat this issue.” Rammel was discussing eating disorders – an epidemic, she says, that is taking the lives of our children.
A Chance to Heal is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing the incidence and reducing the impact of eating disorders. It works to promote the importance of positive body image by educating and influencing parents, young people, educators and healthcare professionals.
“We are not just about preventing incidents,” Rammel said. “We want to get people to talk about this. It’s the only way we can make a difference.”
The philosophy of A Chance to Heal is to target those who influence young adults so they are informed and empowered not only to identify warning signs of eating disorders, but also to promote a healthy body attitude.
On Thursday, Oct. 14, A Chance to Heal, in partnership with Springside School, will host the third in a series of “Body Talk” programs targeted at mentors of young adults (parents, coaches, teachers, faith community leaders). Body Talk III: Empowering Our Kids in a Body Conscious World will provide practical tools for strengthening resilience and preventing eating disorders by developing skills for encouraging positive body image, learning what to say and what not to say, understanding how to promote self-esteem and learning to recognize “red flag” behaviors.
Courtney E. Martin, renowned author of “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Harming Young Women,” is the guest speaker for this event.
Martin is a widely read freelance journalist and frequent radio and television commentator. The evening begins with a book signing at 6:30 p.m., followed by the main program from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Rammel strongly believes that parents are the primary influencers of children, well into their teenage years. By participating in A Chance to Heal programs, parents not only learn the importance of promoting an active lifestyle, engaging in healthy eating and encouraging positive self-esteem, but are given the tools to do so. Most of all, A Chance to Heal hopes to get parents to begin a dialogue.
One popular A Chance to Heal program helps parents do just that.
Parent Talk is a training program to help parents raise children with a healthy attitude towards food and body image. Meeting in an individual’s home, at a community gathering place, in the corporate setting or with a school’s parent body, Parent Talk involves a trained A Chance to Heal counselor sharing relevant materials and facilitating an open discussion around body image, parenting and nutrition.
Through a series of questions on thought-provoking issues, a dialogue ensues. Although generally for parents of children older than 10, A Chance to Heal has hosted sessions with parents of children as young as 3 years old. Noting that there is no charge for the sessions and that any group of individuals can schedule one, Rammel said her group was “here to enlighten the community around us any way we can.”
“Our sessions are designed to help parents recognize that they have a huge capacity to influence children in a positive way,” she added.
Discussions often include how the parent interacts with children around food, what to listen for when a child is speaking, and how parents can become more aware of their own comments on body and nutrition.
The discussion does not stop with the influencers. In The Body Project, 10th-grade girls participate in a four-week, fun, educational and interactive prevention program.
Developed by A Chance to Heal Professional Advisory Council member Eric Stice, Ph.D., The Body Project takes a cognitive dissonance approach – participants are taught to actively critique the “thin ideal.”
While this is certainly an eating disorder prevention program, there is no mention of eating disorders with girls. Instead, this unique approach of critiquing the “thin ideal” has been found to reduce the thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, negative mood, unhealthy dieting and eating disorder symptoms.
Currently, A Chance to Heal is working with researchers and experts to develop a program for girls in grades five through seven.
“We know that awareness of body image is starting at a younger age,” Rummel said. “We want programming to address issues around negative body image early.”
With the expertise and leadership of its Professional Advisory Council, board of directors, and advisory board, Rammel is confident that the organization will continue to offer evidence-based programming that has been proven to help in the prevention of eating disorders.
The Professional Advisory Council is headed by local professionals, Jane Shure, Ph.D., LCSW, and David Steinman, M.D. Located from coast-to-coast, council members are eating disorder prevention experts considered some of the nation’s most influential thought leaders. They collect and disseminate the latest research and practices to inform the work of A Chance to Heal board, committees, and staff.
Business leaders serving on the board of directors are highly accomplished community leaders, including Mary Ellen Lamb of Chestnut Hill and Leigh Filippini of Mt. Airy.
Body Talk III will be held at Springside School, Upper School Auditorium, 8000 Cherokee St. To register, go to www.springside.org or call 215-885-2420. Visit www.achancetoheal.org for more information A Chance to Heal.
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Record Number: 1286585703