NEDA Walks are inspirational, community-building events where passionate walkers raise money to fund eating disorders education, prevention, and support, as well as advocacy and research initiatives. They are a celebration of hope and strength, filled with body-positive activities, motivational guest speakers, and a short walk to symbolize unity in the fight against eating disorders.
Traditionally, NEDA Walks are in-person gatherings but—due to COVID-19 and social-distancing regulations—we’ve had to make some big changes to our events. While there was definitely disappointment after months of planning for the special spring NEDA Walk season in over 50 cities, the health and safety of the NEDA community will always be our first priority.
At NEDA, we understand how isolating an eating disorder can feel, and we also believe that no one should have to fight these illnesses alone. That’s why right now, in this time of uncertainty, we need community the most. So, since we can’t physically gather right now, we set out to create something just as empowering, motivating, and unifying as a typical NEDA Walk. And that is a NEDA Walk—but virtual!
On March 28th and 29th, we hosted our first ever virtual NEDA Walks with over 230 walkers from California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and beyond. We heard from NEDA CEO, Claire Mysko, along with four incredible speakers, held a live Q+A, and had what seems to be a unanimous favorite—a virtual Dance Party led by Tiffany Roe! We shared powerful stories of hope, tips for self-care and self-compassion during hard times, and we proved that nothing can stop the fight against eating disorders. We came together as a community, let our voices be heard, and had some fun with it! Most importantly, we learned a lot as an organization about our community and how powerful NEDA Walks truly are.
With that being said, here are five take-aways from our first ever virtual NEDA Walks:
1) Even in tough times, our community is tougher!
- We are currently experiencing a global pandemic that has led to social distancing and physical isolation. Despite everything that is going on in the world today, we gathered together, in front of our computer screens, maybe still in our pj’s, with our pets, alone, with family members, and showed the world that as a community, we are resilient.
2) Virtual Dance Parties are in!
- Have you ever been to a virtual dance party? SAY NO MORE! Tiffany Roe, owner of Mindfulness Counseling in Utah, and known to the instagram world as @heytiffanyroe, led us in what was probably the coolest part of the whole morning. After sharing with us her five mental health tips during the pandemic, Tiffany had us up and on our feet, dancing along to hit songs like “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo.
3) Self-Compassion isn’t easy, but it’s essential.
- Having compassion for yourself can help with connection—something we all need at this time. Self-compassion is being kind to yourself. Being there for yourself. Acknowledging that things are really hard right now, but that you are not alone and that you deserve love and connection.
4) We can still get social!
- Yeah, okay—maybe we can’t get together and take a fun group shot in our NEDA Walk t-shirts, but we still want to see how you’re NEDA Walking in your home! Share your favorite moments from the virtual walk on Instagram and tag us @neda using the hashtag #NEDAWalk. We want to see your dance moves, your pj’s, and even your furry friends!
5) The fight against eating disorders doesn’t stop.
- People struggling with eating disorders and disordered eating need our help, maybe more now than ever. The money raised by NEDA Walks keeps our fight moving forward. With every dollar raised, we are able to put life-saving resources directly into the hands of those in need.
You have made NEDA Walks possible for the last ten years, and now you’re making it possible for us to host them virtually.
Thank you to everyone who spent your morning with us this past weekend, and for those of you who are interested in getting in on the fun please visit, nedawalk.org/calendar to register for an upcoming virtual NEDA Walk!
Bri Mullins is the National Walks Senior Associate at NEDA. Prior to becoming a staff member, Bri was a dedicated volunteer for the Philadelphia NEDA Walk, and graduated from Temple University with a Bachelors in Social Work. Bri’s passion for the Walks Program stems from her personal experience with eating disorders. In her free time, Bri enjoys finding new coffee shops in her city and spending time with loved ones.