This week we’re inspired by Jessica Hickman, NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) National Walk Manager! Read on to learn more about NEDA, how to get involved and what #AerieREAL means to her.
It’s no secret that Aerie loves NEDA! Can you tell our girls a little bit about the organization, how you got involved and your role on the NEDA Team?
That’s so nice – the feelings are definitely mutual! NEDA stands for National Eating Disorders Association, and we are the leading U.S. non-profit for providing support to individuals and their loved ones affected by eating disorders. NEDA advocates for prevention, early intervention, research, and access to quality care for eating disorders.
I became involved with NEDA after overcoming an eating disorder. I was a two-time volunteer NEDA Walk coordinator in my college town. I wanted to give back to an organization that was there for me, and to spread awareness on a subject that was once even hard for me to talk about. It was an experience that challenged and thrilled me and also inspired me to do more. Now fast forward, and I am the National Walk Manager at NEDA where I am overseeing 65 city walk campaigns and supporting the dedicated walk coordinators who make it all possible! It’s a dream.
New NEDA walks are being added all the time! Where can our girls go to learn more and get involved?
Yes! We are in so many new cities this spring too, and I’m very excited about that. You can go to nedawalk.org to register for a walk near you. You even have the option of forming a team – so don’t forget to invite all of your friends!
We know how important early intervention & screenings are. What is NEDA doing to help educate affected individuals & their families?
This year’s theme for NEDAwareness Week is “3 Minutes Can Save a Life: Get Screened, Get Help, Get Healthy.” We have an online screening tool that takes just a few minutes to complete. This tool can direct users to the right resources for getting help and getting healthy. This initiative doesn’t end with NEDAwareness Week, though. The online screening tool, Information & Referral Helpline, and our other programs, resources, and support networks (like Proud2BMe and NEDA Navigators) are readily available to provide education and support.
We heard you use to work at Aerie! What was your favorite part about the job?
I loved doing the floor sets! I thought it was so fun transforming the store into something totally new overnight. Plus, what’s cooler than hanging out at the mall after hours and getting the first peek at new arrivals?
What is your favorite Aerie product?
Right now, I’m loving my Aerie Sport-ish Crop Legging– but I have an online shopping cart full of some soon-to-be favorites for spring.
What does being #AerieREAL mean to you?
#AerieREAL is not just a hashtag – it’s also movement for girls to support other girls in a world that has made it hard at times to do so. Being #AerieREAL means accepting, owning, and loving your individuality. For me, this was something that once took practice and a daily, conscious effort. Now that I’ve captured feeling of self-love and security, I’m not letting go. I will work to protect it and through working at NEDA I hope to inspire others to find it.
Thank you, Jessica!