Star Heels Dance Team helps UNC Eating Disorders Program to improve outreach on the campus

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, UNC Eating Disorders Program would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who participated in the UNC Star Heels Dance Team Charity Event held Sunday, November 18th, helping to raise funds for upcoming eating disorders outreach initiatives on the UNC campus. Attendance was approximately 250 people, and the event raised around $2,250 thanks to tickets sales and sponsorship donations.

On selecting the UNC Eating Disorders Program as the beneficiary, Meredith Richmond, Community Involvement Chair for the Star Heels Dance team wrote,

“As an all-female dance group, we felt that the Eating Disorders Program was an extremely relevant cause for our benefit show to support, as many of us know people who have been affected by eating disorders. I had first learned of the Program through my involvement in Panhellenic’s Greek Groove Dance Competition, and wanted Star Heels to also be involved in raising awareness and funds for this very beneficial program on our campus.  We look forward to continued involvement and support of the program in the future as well.”

Funds from the Star Heel event will go towards the implementation of new outreach initiatives on campus, such as Embody Carolina, and other events to be held during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in February. The aims of these events are to raise awareness about eating disorders on campus; to help students develop the tools and knowledge needed to best support a loved one recovering from an eating disorder; to celebrate body diversity while enhancing body appreciation among students; and to encourage participation in research.

The dance event was a reminder of just how remarkable the healthy body can be when taken care of and put into motion. With synchronized riffles and shuffle ball changes, tap dancers showed us that we could produce extraordinary sounds with just the heels, toes, and balls of our feet. Ballerinas’ pirouettes and jazz dancers’ leaps across stage, reminded us of the body’s capacity for balance, coordination, and immense flexibility. Misconception, a multicultural hip hop group, showed us that popping, dipping, and “death drops” were possible, and UNC’s Achordants, an all-male a capella group, demonstrated just how beautiful the voice can be by using tight harmonies and diverse sounds to create a lighthearted, spirited tune.

Sitting in the audience watching these performers, I couldn’t help but reflect on the number of people affected by eating disorders who have described losing their voice or physical freedom at some point in the course of their illness. Raising funds for programs aimed at directly improving the lives of these individuals and helping them to feel more comfortable regaining their voice and restoring their bodies to physical health was incredibly rewarding.

The student participants shared a similar sentiment. Ben Barge, Senior at UNC, member of the Achordants, and co-founder of Embody Carolina said,

“I was so excited that I had the chance to perform for a cause that I care so much about. Thanks to the EDP’s research and clinical expertise, men and women on this campus who might otherwise never have received help have found guidance and support for recovery. As someone who has learned the hard way what it means to be an ally, I am so grateful for the work they do to create a healthier Carolina, and a healthier world. The EDP’s collaborative wisdom has been invaluable for Embody Carolina in our creation of UNC’s first eating disorder ally skills training, and we can’t wait to show the results of our work together during NEDA Week in February!”

We look forward to working more with these dedicated, compassionate UNC students to improve outreach on campus. Thank you Star Heels Dance Team Charity Event participants for supporting our mission and taking us one step closer to meeting our goal of providing needed professional and peer support services for all individuals with eating disorders or body image concerns on campus.

By: Cristin Runfola, PhD