Life in Balance

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Show Your True Colours! By Leviana Coccia

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Leviana showing her True Colours!

 On Thurs. April 19, Eating Disorders of York Region (EDOYR), a grassroots, registered non-profit organization founded by families who have been impacted by the devastation and death eating disorders can cause, visited Sutton District High School (SDHS).

I am a reporter, affiliated with EDOYR, who was lucky enough to attend and write this article to share the experience. The article will also be submitted to The Georgina Advocate.

EDOYR was invited to SDHS’ semi-annual “Girls Night In,” an event filled with fun and an opportunity to learn ways to better help and understand the community, starting with oneself, through various presentations and workshops provided by community based non-profit agencies. EDOYR was invited to present some information about their Early Intervention Centre and “need to know” points about eating disorders.

Janice Morgante, Executive Director of EDOYR, opened the presentation with a short video, “Body Image and Self Esteem,” by Teen Truth Live, a professional organization that produces multimedia by and for students. This video takes an inside look at dieting myths, eating disorders, steroid abuse and excessive exercising through the eyes of those whose lives were put at risk. After the video, the floor was opened for discussion, which included some of the following.

Our society’s preoccupation with body image is reflected in the fact that 70 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men are dieting, says the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
Having an eating disorder is much more than just being on a diet. According to Something-Fishy, a website dedicated to providing support, an eating disorder is an illness that permeates all aspects of each sufferer’s life, is caused by a variety of emotional factors and influences and has profound effects on the people suffering and their loved ones.

Eating disorders don’t always show in a person’s body shape or size. However, they may still cause irreversible harm. Eating disorders are life threatening and affect physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual well being and can impact both genders. The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) says that though the most common age of onset is between 14 and 25 years, eating disorders occur in a wide age range.

Unlike the myths sometimes portrayed in the media, an eating disorder is not about vanity. An eating disorder is often the result of a trauma, something we all will experience at some point in our lives.

Like alcoholism and drug addiction, eating disorders are a coping mechanism. Self-awareness and self-care are the first steps to help avoid turning to an unhealthy coping strategy.

When someone experiences trauma and requires assistance, they are encouraged to speak to someone they trust and ask for help.

EDOYR provides help through a telephone referral line for people who are and/or have been impacted by eating disorders.

The organization also provides workshops and weekly support groups facilitated by psychotherapists specializing in eating disorders. Workshops, like a session entitled “Stages of Change,” are free and include help for family and friends supporting a loved one. A variety of support groups are scheduled at various locations and are provided for a nominal fee. For example, a six-week group would cost $60.

Brochures about the organization and topics such as, males and eating disorders, how family and friends can be supportive, dieting myths and facts and binge eating were distributed and left for SDHS students who were unable to attend.

At the end of the presentation, Morgante played a video, entitled “Eva Cassidy’s ‘Your True Colours,’” encouraging the audience to honour life and let their inner colours show. You can find the video on YouTube.

Buttons with the same message have been passed out to students across York Region and were distributed to those in attendance at the “Girls Night In” event at SDHS. Now, various schools in the community have been linked through this initiative.

From left to right: Michelle De Faria (placement student), Leviana Coccia (Events and Communications Coordinator) and Janice Morgante (Executive Director) showing off their true colours as well as their special buttons!

EDOYR encourages everyone to support the true colours campaign. Consider taking photos wearing the button (individual self-shots like mine and group pictures alike) and posting them in schools and areas throughout the community.

Send your photos to They could end up on EDOYR’s blog, Facebook and YouTube. Eventually, the organization will put all of the photos together to produce their very own multimedia piece emphasizing the importance of being true and showing one’s true colours!

Visit for articles and other resources, support group information and links. Here, you’ll also be able to view a two-part Rogers TV documentary. The third part in the series is about the new Early Intervention Centre. It will be posted shortly.

Also online is more information about EDOYR’s friend-raising campaign called, “Celebrate Life: A Circle of Friends.” It encourages members of the community to pay forward their support to encourage others to join in the fight against eating disorders.

For more information or to register for a workshop or support group, call 1-888-407-8813 or e-mail

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