R.I.S.E. Strong (Respect, Image, Self-Love, Education and Empowerment) is a program designed for adolescent girls at the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade school levels. Through positive school presentations and community workshops, R.I.S.E. attendees leave equipped with tools necessary to value and care for their whole selves. R.I.S.E. girls are empowered to love and respect themselves, and each other, as they begin their journey on a happy, healthy, lifelong relationship with food, body, and self.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA, 2016), 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about becoming too fat and engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors. With the best-known contributor to eating disorder behavior being body dissatisfaction, recent studies are showing the median onset of eating disorder behaviors as 12-13 years of age (NEDA, 2016). These statistics are very real and alarming. It is our responsibility to bring awareness and education to our young ladies growing up in such a culture.
I have worked as a Registered Dietitian for 20 years with a specialization in eating disorders for the past 10 years. Like most adolescent girls, and women alike, I have experienced my own struggles with body image and peer pressure to “be” a certain way. Confusing messages about exercise, dieting and acceptance plagued my own youth. It was through my own personal struggle and journey through recovery that my passion to work with adolescent girls was realized. R.I.S.E. is a movement that was developed through years of working with young girls who have been exposed to today’s unrealistic, harmful, and socially constructed messages about nutrition, fitness, image and self.
R.I.S.E. participants learn to listen to their body’s need for energy and respectfully respond. Good vs. bad foods and “diets” are OUT! Intuitive, mindful, balanced eating, and body talk are in!
Moving our bodies is a gift and it is our job to respect and appreciate our body for all that it does for us every day. R.I.S.E. promotes daily, joyful movement. What type of FUN fitness activity do you enjoy?
The one skill that took me years to develop, and is for me one of the most essential components of the R.I.S.E message, is positive self-talk. Self-talk is the most powerful form of communication because it either empowers or it defeats us. One of the questions I ask the girls is, “Do you always speak to yourself like you would speak to a good friend or sibling, or someone you love?” We explore positive, compassionate self-talk, and self-love tools like music lyrics, quotes and journaling. The energy and camaraderie that emerges from a room full of R.I.S.E. participants is priceless. The girls amaze me with their vulnerability and courage to show up, share and be seen.
It is said that a culture is formed by the stories our children are told. It is time for us to form a new story of self-love, acceptance, compassion, respect and value. We have the opportunity to empower this generation with a new message. What an honor it is for R.I.S.E to be a part of this new story.