What Is World Eating Disorders Action Day?

What Is World Eating Disorders Action Day?

World Eating Disorders Action Day #WeDoAct
To be held June 2, 2016
Concept Paper

With the advent of social media, a growing collective of organizations and individuals who are changing the face of eating disorders across the globe have come together to advocate for change and take action against eating disorders. World Eating Disorder Action Day was conceptualized to unite diverse global populations to share accurate information about eating disorders and advocate for coherent response at the country level. A Steering Committee is in place with representatives from Academy for Eating Disorders, June Alexander/Author, Beating Eating Disorders, BingeBehavior.com, Eating Disorders Parent Support, Elephant in the Room Foundation, Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders/F.E.A.S.T, International Eating Disorders Action, Nalgona Positivity Pride, National Association of Males with Eating Disorders, National Eating Disorders Association, Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat, and Trans Folx Fighting Eating Disorders.   The Steering Committee provides overall guidance and strategic direction. To date over 200 organisations and 1000s of Activists from 40 countries have contributed their ideas and willingness to work together using social media as a platform for change.

The Mission of World Eating Disorders Action Day is to advance recognition of eating disorders as serious, treatable illnesses.  The VISION of World Eating Disorders Action Day is to unite eating disorder activists, professionals, and those personally affected to promote worldwide knowledge of eating disorders and recognition of the need for comprehensive treatment. The first annual World Eating Disorders Action Day in 2016 will be primarily virtual and will serve to engage the worldwide eating disorder community around common goals.

The KEY ACTIVITIES of World Eating Disorders Action Day include the following:
• Engaging organisations and activists around the world on social media, with particular attention to underserved groups and geographies;
• A live launch on May 5, 2016, at the Academy for Eating Disorders International Conference on Eating Disorders in San Francisco, USA
• Use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media to share information about #WeDoAct and key messages leading up to and on June 2, 2016 including guest bloggers and posts from participating organisations;
• Outreach to Educational Institutions, Professional Organizations and Professionals, and Advocates (national and international)
• A virtual effort called THUNDERCLAP to ensure hashtags #WeDoAct #WorldEatingDisorderDay and others go ‘VIRAL’ on June 2, 2016
• Presentation of a “Platform of Action” to governments and policy makers; and
• Local advocacy events around the globe including possible building lights, press conferences, etc.

The field of eating disorders (ED) treatment has shifted treatment protocols based on new research findings over the last 10 years. Old “knowledge” is being replaced by evidence-based treatments that acknowledge genetic and biological causes alongside environmental influences. The recent “Nine Truths About Eating Disorders” announcement led by major ED advocacy and research groups was an historic recognition of the changing landscape in the field of ED advocacy, treatment and research.

The democratization of advocacy brought about by social media, as well as an influx of stakeholders with a wider variety of treatment experiences and recovery timelines, provides an important opportunity to bring a truly diverse group of voices together to fight for common goals.

An annual global day of advocacy/activism that has, as the key component, diverse representation:  people of all genders, ages, racial and ethnic identities, nationalities and documentation status, abilities, sizes, socioeconomic backgrounds.  World Eating Disorders Action Day is inclusive of all ED diagnoses and represents views of activists and communities. In 2016 a core message reflecting diversity will be communicated; all organizations are welcome to participate through virtual efforts and locally relevant activities.  World Eating Disorders Action Day is envisioned to be an internationally recognized day for local adaptation to maximize relevance, participation and results.

Expected Outcome
World Eating Disorders Action Day will advance medical and societal understanding of eating disorders as treatable genetic, brain-based illnesses that affect a large cross-section of the world’s population.  #WeDoAct will result in new connections and partnerships, will grow the advocacy base and result in additional actions for change.

Project Description
With a virtual rollout in 2016 and plans for on-ground events in 2017, the guiding principles will be to:
• Use evidence-based advocacy practices to change the face of eating disorders for the medical community and larger society by using diverse, inclusive imagery and positive messaging.
• Educate the general population and specific groups on new understandings of eating disorder diagnosis and treatment.
• Advocate for increased training for pre- and in-service medical professionals on early diagnosis and proper treatment of eating disorders.
• Advocate for increased access to evidence based treatment and legislation to support access to it globally.