To the Editor:

I have encountered so many people that know someone that has been affected by an eating disorder. However, I have come to learn that it is one of the most misunderstood, stigmatized mental illnesses with the highest mortality rate of any other. In the U.S., 30 million people will suffer from an eating disorder. Sadly, I found that adolescents are most at risk for eating disorders, which prompted me to action. 

Most recently, I am involved in expanding my sphere of influence to include eating disorder legislative advocacy in Washington, D.C. For years schools have focused on healthy dieting and weight-related programs. Although the actual solution to eradicating eating disorders is by providing early intervention programs that promote positive body image/self-esteem programs delivered to young adults. I became certified in facilitating and delivering these programs nationwide with great success. 

I’m sure you can see the transparency in the passion I have for supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. I continue to be involved in fundraising activities which provide the funding to support prevention, cures, and access to quality care, raising awareness, and destigmatizing this misunderstood illness. For these reasons, I volunteer 10-15 hours a week to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) working on their helpline and fundraising for their walks. This year I have the privilege of being the organizer of the Fairfield County NEDA Walk, which will include participants from all of Fairfield County on Sunday, Sept. 15, beginning at 9 a.m. at Norwalk’s Calf Pasture Beach. Walk information can be found online. 

Some may ask why I took on this role in addition to balancing family, a business, and volunteering. Here is why:  NEDA Walks are raising critical funds, restoring hope, and changing the conversation surrounding eating disorders. As the leading U.S. nonprofit supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders, NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures, and access to quality care. The funds we raise through NEDA Walks put life-saving resources into the hands of those in need. With every dollar raised, we are one step closer to our shared vision of a world without eating disorders. 

 Oriana Laflamme 

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