NEDA walk comes to Waco for the first time

By Paula Ann Solis

Two Baylor students have united in a stand against eating disorders.

For the first time in Waco,  their stand will become a walk.

Fort Collins, Colo., senior Brooke Jostad and Plano senior Jillian Bean, in partnership with the Baylor University Counseling Center, will host the first National Eating Disorders Association walk in the Waco area.

“I volunteered at one in Dallas and Brooke coordinated one in Colorado. Then we thought, goodness, why not have one here at Baylor,” Bean said. “There’s definitely a need for it.”

Jostad and Bean are both social work majors and both said this walk relates to their future career plans of creating community awareness and serving people.

“The purpose of this walk is to raise awareness and funds for the treatment and prevention of eating disorders,” Bean said.

The walk will take place 6 p.m. on Feb. 28 in Fountain Mall.

Registration for the NEDA walk is $15 for students and $25 for non-students. Those looking to participate can register through the National Eating Disorders Association’s website by selecting the Waco walk, or individuals can register on the day of the event.

At the event, information will be available for all in attendance and questions will be taken by on hand counseling staff, Jostad said.

Licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Emma Wood of the Baylor Counseling Center, will be the guest speaker and will address the crowd before the event begins.

So far, Jostad and Bean have raised $1,950 from registration fees and member fundraising. The target amount is $5,000. All proceeds raised will go toward awareness, prevention, service and treatment programs for eating disorders, according to the National Eating Disorders Association’s website.

Jostad, who in 2011 hosted her first walk in her hometown said she has a personal connection to the National Eating Disorders Association.

“I actually got involved as someone receiving treatment from NEDA,” Jostad said. “Afterwards I wanted to raise awareness about eating disorders and funding for them.”

Bean said she also has a connection to the mission of the National Eating Disorders Association.

“An eating disorder touched someone in my own family and that gave me a passion for the issue,” Bean said.

However, a lack of a personal connection to eating disorders shouldn’t keep people from getting involved, Jostad said.

“I’d like students to know that this event isn’t specific to people who have eating disorders,” Jostad said. “I think people can take something from this regardless of who they are and what their experiences have been.”

Jostad said through her recent partnership with the Baylor Counseling Center, her eyes have been opened to problems on campus.

“Some students might not be suffering from full-fledged eating disorders, but body image issues, self-image issues, especially surrounding young girls just entering Baylor, is common,” Jostad said.

Both Jostad and Bean said media is playing a major role in the effects of eating disorders.

“Its crazy that we place our value in these external things, in what society says of us, in what the media says of us and our body shape or size. It’s crazy because it’s not where our true identity is. Our true identity is in Christ,” Bean said.

The National Institute of Mental Health supports Jostad’s comment, citing on their website that the average age of on-set for eating disorders, specifically anorexia nervosa, is 19.

“We wanted to put on this walk not only to raise awareness about eating disorders, but to explain that they’re not a fad, they’re not a choice, they’re real life threatening illnesses,” said Bean.