An Edge Issue Night on Eating Disorders
Edge Night Outline
Goal of this Night
The goal of this Edge Night is to help the middle school youth see that they have been created in the image and likeness of God. Because all people are created in God’s image, they have fundamental worth. This means that they have worth, regardless of image or weight.
About this night
The topic of this Edge Night is eating disorders, specifically focusing on the dignity and care of our bodies. Our approach is to first talk about the dignity of the human person and how precious we are in God’s sight. We also want to debunk the myth that images seen on magazines are a depiction of beauty or perfection (in fact, they are often computer generated images or real people whose photos are completely retouched that it no longer looks like the original person). However, youth are often more vulnerable to the desire to “be perfect” and to “fit in” with others. This can lead to a low self-image that causes youth to resort to destructive behaviors to cope. Eating disorders are one way that a youth may try to cope with these feelings of inadequacy. Most researchers agree that eating disorders are not about food – they are about low self-esteem, feeling a lack of control in life, or depression and anxiety. Our Catholic Social Teaching reminds us of our dignity and also the dignity of human life. Middle school youth need to hear affirmation of their goodness so as not to fall into these negative behaviors.
The night will begin with a fun activity that will help them get to know more of the middle school youth and Core Members. The night will transition into the teaching with the Scripture reading from 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Discussions for the Break portion of the night will be done in gender specific groups. This is a sensitive subject and should be addressed in a manner that will help the youth feel more comfortable. The night will close with an opportunity for the youth to affirm each other in small groups.
Before The Night
Be sure that you take time to discuss as a team how to respond if a youth shares that he/she is struggling with an eating disorder. Know your diocesan policies in regards to how to properly report and document the information and how/when to include the parents in the discussion.
The youth minister will invite two upperclassmen in high school to share a witness talk. These will be presented during the male and female large groups. Have the teens practice their talks in front of some Core Members before the Edge Night.
During tonight’s Edge session, we discussed who we are as beloved children of God. Being created in God’s image, we are called to live for God. One way to do that is to treat our bodies as the temples that they are. Unfortunately, the world tells us a different message and gives us a false sense of beauty and perfection. This false message strongly affects a young adolescent who is changing and developing and can cause fear, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. As a part of that fear, young adolescents may turn to harmful behaviors such as extreme dieting or purging in order to “fit in.”
This may be a hard topic for your middle school youth. It is very likely that they know someone or they themselves have dealt with an eating disorder. We want to remind them of their goodness that comes from being a son or daughter of God – not their physical appearance, their intelligence, or where they live.
Here are some discussion points and questions:
- How does knowing that you are child of God change how you look at yourself?
- Is the topic of eating disorders something you had heard about before? Where?
- Take the time to affirm your middle school youth. Let them know how much you love them and how beautiful they are.
Part of our teaching included telling the middle school youth that they should talk to their parents or trusted adult if they know of anyone (including themselves) that struggled with body image / eating disorders. Be aware that they may bring this up in the conversation.
The environment for the night will be simple. Print out signs with words of affirmation (You’re the best; God loves you just the way you are; You are special, etc.). Make banners with some scripture verses and hang them on the walls. Use your creativity to emphasize this point.
• Pens, pencils, markers
• Handout A: Autograph Sheet
• Paper Plates (1 for each person)
• Blank paper
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