YWM2018 taught us about community and actionWhat would you set out to do if an entire army were behind you?

In late July 2018, OAC hosted its 7th Annual Your Weight Matters (YWM2018) National Convention in Denver. The nationally-acclaimed meeting joined together diverse individuals from across the country (and globe!) who have ever struggled with weight-related issues or have an interest in those topics.

After seven successful years in the making, OAC’s Convention has continued to invest in the health journeys of all its attendees, as well as ALL who have ever experienced challenges with weight. The Convention has always been renowned for its quality weight/health education, but at YWM2018, a different kind of message filled the space: the power of community and in helping others is what truly brings us to new heights!

Discovering Renewed Passion and Momentum

YWM2018 empowered individuals to use their voiceWith more than 500 individuals in attendance, YWM2018 saw our most passionate and engaged audience of health advocates yet! Attendees from all walks of life did more than simply absorb helpful education to guide them in their individual health journeys. They uncovered their unique voices, identified new passions and became empowered.

What does that mean – “do more?” For YWM2018 speakers and attendees alike, it meant finding a community of people who instinctively put you first and cared about your well-being – not just about your weight. It meant connecting with the OAC Community and discovering that all aspects of our health journeys are important – the successes as well as the challenges. But it also meant taking this support and turning it into action – action that traveled beyond the walls of YWM2018 to improve the lives of everyone, everywhere who has ever struggled with weight or has been affected by weight-related issues.

Action Takes Different Forms

As a true testament to this newfound passion and momentum, OAC is honored to have trained close to 100 new advocates who are ready to lead the charge in taking action on behalf of the more than 93 million Americans affected by obesity across the United States.

But beyond this impressive number, OAC witnessed something even more organic. New and old faces alike caught a glimpse at their potential. From traveling on an airplane for the first time just to attend YWM2018 to voicing a personal story or experience out loud, lives were truly impacted by the experience of entering a community that prioritized health, respect and happiness over the size of one’s body or a specific number on the scale.

The resounding theme of this year was action, and at YWM2018, attendees learned that action is possible in so many different ways. Whether it’s taking the next healthy step in your individual journey, speaking to a representative of Congress about obesity care, passing-out OAC resources in your town/city or simply being a voice of support to someone else, all action makes a difference.

The Future is in Community

YWM2018 saw attendees representing diverse backgrounds in 34 U.S. states and six different countries. Yes – SIX countries! Some came to learn more about improving their health while others arrived seeking renewed inspiration or motivation. Healthcare providers from different specialties and sought-after health experts also joined the mix, as well as key thought leaders and industry professionals from around the country and globe.

Everyone had different motivations for attending, but all felt the unified sense of support, empowerment and community that was fostered in Denver. Taking our health to new heights may be challenging, but working together helps us reach the summit!

It starts by investing in your own health journey and realizing that your experiences matter. It continues by reaching out, finding others and building a strong and engaged community in which everyone is heard and empowered. It culminates by taking your own journey, tools and resources to make some kind of tangible difference – no matter the size of your action.

We have so much work to be done to ensure individuals affected by obesity are being listened to, supported and empowered. Weight is a sensitive subject too often clouded by stigma and misunderstanding. The strides we have to make are great, but community will get us there. Thank you to all who attended YWM2018, followed along throughout the weekend or those who are making plans to attend next year’s Convention in Tampa, August 1-4, 2019!