West Branch senior Elizabeth Nicholl is determined to bring awareness to campus following the death of her classmate Kelly Markatos.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is Sunday through March 1, and Nicholl has been working tirelessly since winter break to organize a week full of events to both raise awareness and eliminate the stigma against individuals with eating disorders.
“It kind of broke my heart to know that my classmate had died of an eating disorder,” Nicholl said. “I looked at the facts and I’m like ‘holy crap, four out of 10 women, 25 percent of male students. That’s a lot of people.’”
Nicholl conducted her own research on the issue, and what began as a curiosity developed into a plan to begin a campaign tailored to Central Michigan University students.
“It was like a personal project,” Nicholl said. “I was wondering if there was something I could maybe do at a local level. I looked at what the university had been doing and they had some old handouts and some outdated information.”
Not only has Nicholl updated information in three different brochures detailing the signs of an eating disorder, how to help and available resources, she also organized a week full of educational and stress-relieving activities for students.
The week kicks off Monday with a campaign table in the Bovee University Center at 2 p.m., followed by a speaker and vigil to honor Kelly Markatos at 7 p.m. in the Fabiano Botanical Garden Gazebo.
Sheridan, Markatos’ sister, will be speaking about her sister’s death and the overall issue of eating disorders.
The rest of the week will include a Twitter Chat led by discussion experts, stress-relieving yoga and a showing of “Miss Representation,” a documentary highlighting the stigma of female body image.
Freshman Gabrielle Negro of Shelby Township became involved in the campaign after a friend forwarded her the email notice. Wanting to help in any way she could, Negro said she would love to see the campaign turned into a registered student organization in the future.
“It’s so prevalent,” Negro said. “There’s a lot of misconceptions. A lot of people don’t understand that people with eating disorders don’t always look emaciated.”
To learn more about this week and its events, visit the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week – CMU Facebook page.