What Schools know about Eating disorders: Sharing Good Practice September 30th 2013
Heather attended this conference held at Porthlethen Academy, which was pitched at school staff from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, hosted by the latter. The conference was opened by Dennis Robertson, MSP, who’s daughter sadly died from an eating disorder. He now spends much of his time raising awareness of eating disorders, and keeping their profile high on the agenda in the Scottish Parliament. Dr Jane Morris from the Eden Unit looked at what eating disorders actually are, and that was followed by staff from Westhill Academy looking at how schools managed eating disorders. Following a short break, Dr Rachael Smith looked at what professional services are available, and Jan McDonald, a parent, suggested ways in which schools may support any affected pupils. The final presentation was given by a b-eat Young Ambassador, Sara Preston, who gave an account of what is was like to be a young person struggling with the illness. The following workshop looked at all the presentations and groups were asked to develop three questions to present to a panel made up from the speakers. Aberdeenshire Council delegates then rounded off the day by making relevant pledges to support those affected by eating disorders in schools. It was a very informative and awareness raising day, which allowed lots of networking with delegates from all over the north east.
Presentation from Young Persons’ Department (YPD)
Two ladies came along to our September group meeting and gave a presentation on body image. After a short presentation, there was time to discuss the topic and how it impacts on our lives through the media.
Sara Preston, Scottish Young Ambassador for b-eat
We were extremely lucky to secure the services of Sara Preston, one of b-eat’s Scottish Young Ambassadors to come and talk to us at the November meeting. Sara started by giving us an insight into the work of b-eat and what the Young Ambassadors do. She then gave us an account of her own experience of having an eating disorder as an adolescent and subsequent recovery and the completion of her studies. Many of our group members were very moved by her words, and inspired by what she has achieved. She then, very generously took part in our sharing time, spending time with both carers and sufferers.
“This is Me” Calendar
One of our group members and some of her friends and family came together to produce a calendar which celebrates positive body image, raising funds for the national charity Body Gossip and NEEDS(Scotland). The group have included a positive statement about body image on each page. The calendar has been featured in Trend magazine, the online publication Aberdeen Voice, and also the Evening Express.
We wish them well for their launch night at The Albyn, on Saturday November 9th at 7.30pm.
Youth Philanthropy Initiative
This is a project involving secondary school pupils with the aim of getting them involved with local charities. Groups of pupils choose a charity which has an emphasis on some aspect of social care, and they do some research in their chosen field. They then do a presentation to their fellow pupils. The winning group then goes forward to national level, and the ultimate winning group wins £3000 for their chosen charity. Some groups also fundraise for their chosen groups.
We have been involved with several schools so far, St Margaret’s School for Girls, Ellon Academy, Banchory Academy, Elgin High School, Mackie Academy and two groups at Keith Grammar School. So far, we haven’t been in the top slot, but we have been in the semi finals. All this exposure means that eating disorders awareness is raised in schools, and for that we are immensely grateful. We are also very appreciative of any fundraising activities the schools undertake.
We cannot speak too highly of the enthusiasm and commitment of all the young people we have worked with.
NEEDS (Scotland) were able to attend the Freshers’ Fayres at both Aberdeen University and The Robert Gordon University. This raises awareness of eating disorders, and also about our group and the support we offer. It also provides the opportunity for anyone to share their concerns, or perhaps offer assistance to the group in some way.
Don’t ever let worries about food or weight hold you back