Spark the Change

We are so excited to announce that our applications are open for this year’s Spark the Change Youth Leadership camp! Check below for Application forms and additional information. ALL F…

Source: Spark the Change

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Eating Disorder Awareness Week

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We live in a culture where we are constantly being told through the media, movies, friends, family members and even by our own brains, what an ideal body looks like and what we should be doing to achieve one. Think of all the get-skinny-quick diets and hot new workout trends that are all over magazines and advertisements. The truth is, we all have different bodies and they are all beautiful and worthy. Somehow, all these negative messages we hear and see around body image sneak their way into our personal world and can have a pretty negative impact on our relationships with our bodies and how we feed them.

February 1st to 7th was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Eating disorders or disordered eating are a mental illness and, like any mental illness, they can be really hard to talk about and have a lot of stigma and shame attached to them. But, talking about them is really important. So many people struggle with disordered eating, and eating disorders are the mental illness that have the highest death rate. Disordered eating affects people of all different genders, ages, races and backgrounds. There are also many different kinds of eating disorders, and you really can’t tell by looking at someone if they struggle with disordered eating or not.  We live in a world where having a healthy relationship to your body and to food is not an easy thing to do.

Think about what most of the bodies you see on TV or in magazines look like. Thin bodies are so often seen as good and beautiful and fat bodies are so often seen as bad and shamed, which is part of thin-privilege. Thin-privilege creates this culture where there is a pressure to be thin and bodies that aren’t considered thin are shamed and discriminated against. Which just isn’t fair. We as humans are so much more than a number on a scale and don’t deserve to be treated differently because of it. All bodies are different and all bodies are beautiful.

We often think of eating disorders and disordered eating something that only women and girls face. So much emphasis is put on women and girl’s bodies and their appearance that it’s impossible to navigate the world as female-identifying person without thinking about or having other people comment on your weight. And, according to the National Eating Disorder Information Center 80% of the people diagnosed with an eating disorder are female-identifying. However, it’s dangerous to think of eating disorders as a ladies-only problem. It’s important to remember that all genders can experience disordered eating and that male-identifying, trans and non-binary folks also face complex and unique pressures that can lead to disordered eating and should be included in the conversation.

So what can we do to cultivate a healthy relationship to our own bodies and support others in having healthy relationships with theirs? First of all, know how the best way to support someone who has an eating disorder or where to reach out for help if you think you might be struggling with disordered eating. For information on how to support someone with an eating disorder click here and for information on where to get help click here.

Also, you can work to create a community that combats the environment that contributes to disordered eating. Two pretty cool, and not mutually exclusive, movements that do this are #riotsnotdiets and the body positivity movement or #bopo. Both of these movements are all about the radical idea of learning to love yourself and your body and how to form a healthy relationship with food and exercise. Both of these movements acknowledge that all different sorts of bodies exist all around us and are all worthy of love. There are tons of amazing accounts focusing on both these movements on social media and we highly recommend checking out both hashtags.

Practicing self-love and body positivity is one of the most radical ways that we can fight against a society that promotes disordered eating and have a healthy relationship with ourselves, our bodies and food. It’s not an easy thing to do but, be kind to yourself and know that all bodies are beautiful and worthy of nourishment and love.

For more reading on this topic check out:

 

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UN Declaration of Human Rights

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How to deal with online harassment

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Image via The Atlantic

The internet is a great place (hello Netflix, cute selfies, and wholesome memes I’m looking at you), but it can also be a spot where *garbage people* from around the world spend their time harassing, intimidating, and threatening others.

If you’ve never heard of the term “Cyber-misogyny”, it would be a good thing to do a quick Google about. Basically, it’s the idea that women and girls face a lot more online harassment than other folks, simply because they are women and girls. It’s not necessarily the “fault” of the internet that this happens, but rather an extension of the crap women and girls face in the real world that is merely perpetuated in different ways online. Now, this also applies to BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Colour), queer and trans folk, and our Muslim communities. If you happen to be a member of a group that already faces oppression irl, chances are some mouth breather will use that if they’re trying to get under your skin online.

With some of these online attacks, we are able to simply roll our eyes, block the person, and move on. With others, however, it may be an ongoing campaign to belittle someone, scare them, and push them out of online spaces (lots and lots of female Twitter users have left the platform because of threats of real life violence or exposure of personal info), often resulting in fear of physical or sexual violence being perpetrated against the victim of online abuse.

So what can we do? How do we fight back?

In Session 7 of HRY (Social Media and Relationships), we look at how to build responsible online communities and spaces. A lot of it is the same as in the real world; stand up for others when you see harassment happening, don’t engage with people who are clearly looking to bother you, and don’t share other people’s information or pics if they haven’t given you permission. Let’s work together to build spaces where people can actually have fun and hang out without worrying about bullying, harassment, or intimidation. In the larger sense, we also need to create a world where we are constantly challenging misogyny, racism, and homophobia/transphobia until these opinions are no longer pervasive and accessible via the internet or anywhere else. It is up to us to create these spaces both online and in our classrooms, friend groups, and families.

For more information about your rights online, what’s legal, what’s not, and how to fight back if you have been targeted via the internet, check out West Coast LEAF’s very easy to read legal info brochure here:

http://www.westcoastleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/2014-CYBER-MISOGYNY-Legal-Guide.pdf

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Spark the Change Date & Venue

From May 12th-14th our annual Spark the Change youth leadership camp will be held at the beautiful Liscombe Lodge in Sherbrooke, NS. We will be releasing application documents soon, and are so excited for this year’s event!! Wahoo!

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Updating Resources

Hello HRY friends,

Over the next few weeks we will be updating our list of resources to make sure that you know where to turn for support in your community. Check out the Need Help? section for a list of resources for things like mental health, addictions, sexual health and other forms of counselling and support.

We just added a list of resources available in the Guysborough area and we will be updating with lists for other areas soon!

 

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Interested in helping HRY be the best it can be, from a youth perspective? We want you to join our youth advisory committee and have your voice heard!

  • What curriculum sessions do you like? Dislike? Do you think we need to focus on other issues?
  • How can we better support youth facilitators across the province? What do we need to know about you and your region?
  • What do you want to learn about at Spark the Change, our annual leadership retreat, and how do you want to learn it? Who should we get to do workshops or be a speaker, and on what topics?
  • What do you need from HRY and how can we give it to you?

To apply or learn more, please email erin@awrcsasa.ca with your grade, school, and why you’re interested. We look forward to hearing from you!

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