Throughout the month of December, we’ve talked about creating REAL change for REAL people affected by obesity through education, advocacy and support.
But what does that mean — real change? Real people? In dealing with obesity, it’s easy to get hung-up on statistics and lose sight of the faces behind them.
That’s why we wanted to share the story of Faith from North Carolina — someone who is personally affected by obesity but is creating tangible change for others affected via the OAC’s educational resources and support. We invite you to read her story below.
And remember: during this season of giving, your generosity and support helps make the OAC’s goals possible. Will you consider making a tax-deductible gift to the OAC?
Your Gift Makes it Possible to Educate Others, Like Faith from North Carolina
Your tax-deductible gift to the OAC will directly help us in our efforts to educate more people about obesity, treatment options, weight bias, access to care and so much more.
But don’t take our word for it! See what OAC Community Member Faith Anne Newsome is doing in North Carolina — using the OAC’s education to support other adolescents affected by obesity.
As a current young college student and natural born leader, Faith disapproves of the negative stereotypes often associated with obesity. But like many others who have personally struggled for years with the disease, she internalized harmful bias and often felt as though her weight was a result of her “not trying enough.”
After having bariatric surgery at age 16 with significant health improvements to follow, Faith learned a lot about obesity and how it changes lives. Upon discovering the OAC and leaning on the bias-free education, resources and tools we offer, she dedicates her time to supporting other adolescents affected by obesity. Read more about Faith’s story below!
Beginning Her Journey
I struggle with my obesity every day.
Growing up, I always struggled with my weight. I spent many years feeling guilty, shamed and at fault. I must not have been trying hard enough. I must have not worked hard enough during workouts. I must have not paid close enough attention to logging my calories into whatever app I was using at the time.
Ultimately, my life changed when I had Gastric Bypass Roux-en-Y (RNY) at age 16. Duke Children’s Healthy Lifestyles Program gave me the chance at a healthier life where I could participate in activities it seemed I could only dream of. Within one month of having surgery, I was playing on my high school’s tennis team. I went from being pre-diabetic and insulin resistant with high blood pressure to not experiencing any of those symptoms. I ran 5k’s my first year in college. My life had changed.
Paying it Forward
A few years later, during my sophomore year of college, I reached out to the Healthy Lifestyles Program once again. They offered me a summer internship. During the summer at Duke Children’s, I collaborated with professionals to design a support and advocacy group for adolescents with obesity. I called it O.C.E.A.N.S which stands for outreach, community engagement and support. I began the program with the hopes of creating a group of people who could offer each other support. Obesity can be isolating, and I didn’t want other adolescents to feel alone.
To learn more about O.C.E.A.N.S which Faith created, visit their Facebook page.
Also during my internship, the Program offered to fund a trip to Denver, Colorado to attend the OAC’s Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention. This was my first introduction to the OAC! There, I shared my story with others and felt an overwhelming amount of support. The OAC was also the first organization to introduce to me the definition of obesity as a disease, and that revolutionized the way I treat my own obesity.
Leaning on the OAC
I use the OAC and its resources daily within O.C.E.A.N.S. We use their gallery of non-stigmatizing images in social media campaigns. I also use blogs and articles of active OAC members to send other college students dedicated to the O.C.E.A.N.S mission so we can have thoughtful discussions on:
- What it means to be healthy
- How obesity can be treated
- How we can empower other adolescents with obesity to live happy, healthy and confident lives
The OAC changed my life! Even after surgery, I still experienced some of the residual effects of years of guilt and shame. However, through a strong sense of community and helpful educational materials, the OAC has started to reverse the last remaining feelings of guilt and shame I carried for so long.
I struggle with obesity every day. However, the OAC serves as a valuable resource for support, education and advocacy which makes the journey a little easier.
I hope that during this season of giving, you will consider making a charitable gift to the OAC. Your generosity creates REAL change for REAL people affected by obesity — just like me.