Hand Knit Hope program provides warmth to lives in need
The National Initiative for Eating Disorder’s (NIED’s) beloved Hand Knit Hope program and its small but mighty army of caring knitters, has been hard at work knitting and crocheting hats, scarves, headbands and neck warmers to provide warmth to those in need, while also raising awareness about Eating Disorders as a way to give back on Giving Tuesday, 2021.
This year, more than 400 items were lovingly crafted and donated to five different Eating Disorder organizations across Canada including the Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (Ontario), Credit Valley Hospital Eating Disorders Program (Ontario), BridgePoint Center for Eating Disorders (Saskatchewan), and the Silver Linings Foundation (Calgary).
Now in its 10th year, Hand Knit Hope was initiated by a NIED volunteer who discovered the therapeutic benefits of knitting and crocheting while in treatment for an Eating Disorder. She subsequently pitched NIED founder, Wendy Preskow, the idea of forming knitting circles with people struggling with an Eating Disorder. Before you could say “knit 1 and purl 2”, people ranging in age from 6 to 90 were knitting and/or crocheting items to distribute to treatment centres, support groups and anyone on their Eating Disorder recovery journey who needed a bit of warmth and love on their path to wellness.
“NIED’s Hand Knit Hope program warms our hearts knowing that donating these items will keep someone a little warmer during the colder days ahead,” says NIED founder Wendy Preskow. “This program began as a way to support individuals affected by Eating Disorders who were in treatment or attending support groups.”
This year, Hand Knit Hope extended its reach by donating to the Barbara Schlifer Clinic which offers legal, counselling and interpretation services to marginalized and racialized populations of women who have survived violence and the Stop and Out of the Cold Programs.
An estimated 2.7 million Canadians would meet the diagnostic criteria for an Eating Disorder. Eating Disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness with 1 in 10 people dying from their disorder. Eating Disorders affect all genders, ages, racial/ethnic identities, sexual orientations and socio-economic backgrounds.
NIED assists people cope with the effects of Eating Disorders by providing access to educational, informational and other recovery-oriented resources related to the prevention and treatment of Eating Disorders and related mental illnesses in Canada.
Anyone interested in participating or in need of a warm item, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
(Left to right) – Wendy Preskow (Founder/President of NIED) and knitting and crocheting helpers Kay Epstein and Rohna Lubner get cozy amidst over 400 items lovingly crafted for Hand Knit Hope 2021, to raise awareness for Eating Disorders as part of Giving Tuesday.
For further information, please contact: Lynne Koss Co-Founder/Vice President National Initiative for Eating Disorders – NIED www.nied.ca Twitter: @nied_ca
“Our System is Failing Youth With Eating Disorders.”
Read Natalya Anderson’s profound article that was posted to Postmedia’s “Healthing” site on November 17, 2021.
In the article, that includes quotes from NIED founder Wendy Preskow, she passionately lays out why the system is failing youth with Eating Disorders.
Watch a D-Talks podcast episode featuring a must-see conversation with an Eating Disorder lived-experience young adult.
D-Talks – a conversation about mental health and addiction is a podcast series by MPP Hon. Michael A. Tibollo (Vaughan—Woodbridge), Ontario’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. In this 5th episode, Associate Minister Tibollo has a frank and meaningful conversation with Erin, an Eating Disorder lived-experience young adult.
#Equity4EatingDisorders Focus of 9th Annual Honouring the Journey
The National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED) will hold its 9th annual, and first virtual,Honouring the Journey with the them Voices of Hope, Tribute, Inspiration and Celebration to honour the tremendous journey – the triumphs and losses experienced by those challenged by Eating Disorders on WednesdayJune 2nd, 2021, as part of World Eating Disorders Action Day.
The ever-pressing issue of #Equity4Eating Disorders: equity for addressing all forms of Eating Disorders; equity in research and program funding; equity in access to treatment and recovery services; and equity for marginalized and under-represented groups will be the focus of a panel discussion. Moderating the panel discussion is André Picard, an award-winning journalist and one of Canada’s top health & public policy observers and commentators. He has been a part of The Globe and Mail team since 1987, where he is a health reporter and columnist.
Michelle Stewart, a former head of communications for the British Columbia Ministry of Health died in 2014 from organ failure as a result of her life-long battle with an Eating Disorder. In her final year of life, Michelle wrote Shell: One Woman’s Final Year After a Lifelong Struggle with Anorexia and Bulimia. Kirk Mason, Michelle’s partner and caregiver and Michelle’s sister, Karen Flello, will share their personal experiences and reflections with Michelle’s Eating Disorder struggles as the event keynote speakers. Karen and Kirk have dedicated themselves to sharing Michelle’s story, in hopes that her legacy can also help others challenged by this devastating illness. The first 100 people to register for Honouring the Journey 2021 will receive a free copy of Michelle’s memoir.
Following the keynote address, #Equity4Eating Disorders will be the focus of the panel discussion that will include Kirk Mason, as well as, Tierra Hohn, a public health professional from Toronto whose lived experience ignited her passion for advocacy and building awareness around Eating Disorders and body image, and Zachary Grant, a queer, trans, gender non-binary, social service worker, who works at Sheena’s Place with the first support group in the Greater Toronto Area, for trans, nonbinary, and gender questioning individuals with Eating Disorders.
World Eating Disorders Action Day is a day when more than 200 organizations world-wide from over 50 countries unites activists across the globe with the aim to expand global awareness of eating disorders as genetically linked, treatable illnesses that can affect anyone. It is a day that brings together members of the Eating Disorder community virtually, including affected individuals and their families, professionals, researchers, and policy makers, to increase access to accurate information, eradicate myths and collectively advocate for resources and policy change.
NIED is a non-profit organization that assists and supports people coping with the effects of Eating Disorders by providing access to educational, informational and other recovery-oriented resources related to the prevention and treatment of Eating Disorders and related mental illnesses in Canada.
Honouring the Journey 2021: Voices of Hope, Tribute, Inspiration and Celebration is organized by NIED in support of World Eating Disorders Action Day. Participation is FREE. To register, please visit xxxxxxx. To find out more about NIED, please visit www.nied.ca, and to learn more about World Eating Disorders Action Day and how you can participate, please visit http://www.worldeatingdisordersday.org.
For further information: Lynne Koss (she/her)
National Initiative for Eating Disorders – NIED www.nied.ca Twitter: @nied_ca
Karen Flello has been privileged to work as a public educator in Victoria, BC, for the past 30 years, beginning her career as a high-school English teacher and now serving as the principal of a K – 12 online Education school. Her love of learning translated into a lifetime in school – as a student, a teacher or an administrator, Karen has been present for 49 “first days of school” so far!
Karen’s connection to Eating Disorders began in her teens when her younger sister, Michelle, developed bulimia. In her role as Michelle’s supporter – and, many years later, as one of Michelle’s end-of-life care-givers – Karen experienced the complex emotions and life challenges that face many family members of ED sufferers and survivors. During those last days, Karen and Michelle’s husband, Kirk, committed to publishing Michelle’s blog into book form and to dedicating funds raised by the sale of the book to the ongoing pursuit of research, treatment and cures for these most devastating illnesses. They published the book Shell: A Memoir in 2015 with the help of Life Tree Media. Karen lives in Victoria with her husband, David, and their son, Andrew. Their son, Liam, and daughter-in-law, Amber, live close by.
Kirk Mason’s love affair with broadcasting began in childhood – his transistor radio a constant companion. That romance blossomed into a broadcasting career that spanned fifty years with stops in nine cities across Canada. Kirk was a member of the RTNDA (Radio and Television News Directors Association) for several years, and was the recipient of a BC Association of Broadcasters Award for Excellence in News Reporting.
Kirk’s sense of community led to many volunteer opportunities over the years. He assumed a leadership role with the United Way of Greater Victoria – a partnership that lasted more than twenty-five years. He is a committed supporter of Doctors Without Borders, the BC SPCA, Victoria Hospice, and NIED.
In 2015, he worked with his sister-in-law, Karen Flello and Life Tree Media in Vancouver to deliver on a
promise to his wife, Michelle Stewart, to publish her brave and insightful account of her decades-long struggle with Eating Disorders. Kirk lives in Victoria, B.C.
#Equity4Eating Disorders Panel:
Panel Moderator: André Picard is one of Canada’s top health & public policy observers and commentators. He has been a part of The Globe and Mail team since 1987, where he is a health reporter and columnist. He is also the author of five bestselling books. Picard is an eight-time nominee for the National Newspaper Awards, Canada’s top journalism prize, and past winner of the prestigious Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service Journalism.
He was named Canada’s first “Public Health Hero” by the Canadian Public Health Association, as a “Champion of Mental Health” by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, for his dedication to improving healthcare.
A graduate of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, André has received honorary doctorates from six universities, including UBC and the University of Toronto. He is a seasoned communicator who employs a conversational style to reach his audience. Additionally, he enlivens his research and commentary with personal stories to provide context for his audience. Fluently bilingual, André will enlighten and pique a sense of curiosity of audience members from all educational backgrounds. Behind the placid exterior lies an inquisitive, perceptive and industrious scribe for whom the work only begins with the official story.
The University of British Columbia recently announced André Picard as one of the Asper Visiting Professors at the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media for the 2020-2021 academic year, winter session. In 2020, Picard was awarded The Owen Adams Award of Honour. This award is the highest CMA award available to a non-physician.
Kirk Mason (see keynote speaker)
Tierra Hohn (she/her) is a public health professional from Toronto. She holds a Master of Public Health and a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management. Her lived experience ignited her passion for advocacy and building awareness around eating disorders and body image. Over the years she has run various workshops and facilitated discussions on such topics. The purpose of this being to create dialogue, educate and offer up tools and resources that can help others feel more comfortable in their own skin. Tierra is also a yoga teacher, author and avid learner.
Zachary Grant (they/them) is a queer, trans, gender non-binary, white, settler, activist, artist, nerd, social service worker, and academic. Zac currently works at Sheena’s Place, where they started the first support group in the Greater Toronto Area for trans, nonbinary, and gender questioning individuals with eating disorders. Zac is also a PhD student in the School of Social Work at York University, their research focuses on transgender healthcare and the experiences of trans individuals with ‘eating disorders’.
Join NIED in supporting the EDAW 2021 Brave Letters campaign to demand support for people affected by Eating Disorders.
Nearly 3 million Canadians meet the diagnostic criteria for an Eating Disorder, the deadliest of all mental illnesses, and thousands more struggle without a diagnosis. Eating Disorders do not discriminate. This devastating mental illness impacts people of all genders, ages, and circumstances, and has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased need in services due to isolation.
We need action now. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced extraordinary challenges for not only people with Eating Disorders, but their family, friends, and the healthcare professionals who are struggling to serve them, given limited resources in our communities and nationally. Community-based treatment has been proven to lead to improved health outcomes. By reducing social isolation and the strain put on family/caregivers, reducing hospitalization, supporting sustainable recovery, and preventing Eating Disorders, community-based support saves lives.
With your help, we can change things. Send a letter to your local, provincial, and federal politicians. Speak up for the people who can’t advocate for themselves.
Since 1988, when NEDIC became the national coordinator for EDAW, they, along with other groups across the country, slowly started to officially recognize EDAW. Today, the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, and now Ontario have all proclaimed EDAW.
MPP Andrew, a long-time supporter of the National Eating Disorders Information Centre (NEDIC) and co-founder of Body Confidence Canada, an organization that advocates for equitable and inclusive images, messages, practices and policies supporting body diversity said, “EDAW will help bring attention to the diversity of people who experience Eating Disorders, including Black, and racialized women and girls, queer people, transgender people, disabled people and fat people.”
EDAW is a collective effort from coast-to-coast engaging organizations to host local events, light prominent landmarks in the colour purple, and participate in public education campaigns about Eating Disorders.
Building on EDAW’s previous year’s theme “Eating Disorders Can’t Afford to Wait”, this year’s primary message is “What Happened While We Waited?”. The week will literally and figuratively shine a light on the nuances of the current times — the negative and positive implications of the pandemic — while also holding space for those who have been waiting a very long time for the care they need and deserve.
NIED’s co-founder Wendy Preskow, and NEDIC’s program manager Suzanne Phillips both agree that the proclamation of EDAW every year in Ontario from February 1-7, was a fantastic moment for Eating Disorder advocacy in the province. “It felt like everybody’s hard work was recognized…and individuals who are impacted by Eating Disorders had what they rightfully deserve, which is recognition. It’s a first step, and I think it was a very necessary good first step to give us the energy to keep going.”
For a link to the full story on the proclamation, visit www.nied.ca. For further information about EDAW and a complete list of events, please visit www.nedic.ca. For information about NIED and the work it does on behalf of those challenged by Eating Disorders, please contact:
For further information, please contact: Lynne Koss Co-Founder/Vice President National Initiative for Eating Disorders – NIED www.nied.ca
Listen to CBC’s Ottawa Morning with Robyn Bresnahan segment on Eating Disorders and COVID, that aired January 20, 2021
The children’s hospital CHEO has seen a spike in youth with Eating Disorders since the pandemic began. Here, Robyn Bresnahan interviews Ottawa psychologist, Dr Shari Mayman, Co-Director, Anchor Psychological Services, about the connection between COVID and eating disorders.