Recently I had the opportunity to interview one of the founders of Project HEAL, Liana Rosenman. We spoke about the founding of Project HEAL with her co-founder Kristina, the importance of being yourself, the people PHEAL has helped, and the upcoming Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW).
Written by Jacqueline Elkort, Project HEAL National Blog Manager
A treatment center is an unlikely place for Upstart award winning business partners to meet, but for Liana and Kristina, treatment turned out to be the end of something debilitating, and the beginning of something great. Liana and Kristina were not close during their time in treatment for their eating disorders, but both became part of a recovery group after leaving. At the recovery group meetings Kristen, Liana, and others would meet to provide support to one and other, and share stories about their continued success in recovery. “There were no Demi Lovato’s when we were going through this” Liana says. There were no positive role models that were in recovery from ED, and it is important to have role models of people who have successfully gone through it so you know that it’s possible.” The group provided peer support and role models for the girls. Over time, they watched the recovery group get smaller and smaller, as many of the members began to relapse. ED has a high relapse rate, and the scary fact that Liana and Kristina came to realize is that treatment is often unavailable to people that suffer from these disorders. Treatment is expensive, time consuming and often not covered by insurance; or when it is, can still have many additional costs.
Out of this the idea for Project HEAL was born and the girls set out to build it into the remarkable organization it is today, becoming the role models they wanted for themselves when they were in treatment. The co-founders are accessible and highly involved in their organization- Liana is Chief Creative Officer and Kristina is taking over the position of Executive Director next month. They also have thriving Instagram accounts where people can see their everyday lives. People can see that “we don’t have to use eating disorders to cope with life’s ups and downs; we are not trapped [by ED]”. Followers can see the girls going about their everyday lives, successful in their recovery, and accepting themselves for who they are. “My eyebrows were something I used to be ashamed of,” says Liana. Now they have become something of her trademark. “You are you for a reason” she says , “there is no one like you in the world.” One of the reasons for Liana and Kristina being who they are is to help others in their struggle with ED. Since Project HEAL’s inception, there have been twenty grant recipients’ that have received funding for treatment. Countless more have been helped, inspired, and found community through the organizations social media outlets such as the Instagram account and this blog.
Working on the blog, I have received many thank you emails, notes and moving stories from guest bloggers that were helped by writing and sharing their stories with others, and the hope that this writing has helped others. Liana, of course, has received many more. Liana co-founded this organization while she was in high school and together with Kristina, has grown it through her time in college and beyond. In addition to her day job as an elementary school teacher, she receives and reads a huge amount of emails every day, and works though accounting, paperwork, meetings, and her duties as Chief Creative Officer. She does not take a salary. Hearing stories and receiving thank you notes from those that have been helped by the organization “make it all worth it.” She says she feels honored that people she never met or in some cases, just met, want to share their stories with her. One of her most notable thank yous’ was when one of those she inspired drove two hours to meet Liana at an EDAW event.
Eating Disorder Awareness Week is an integral part of Project HEAL. It starts today with ‘Spread Awareness Sunday!’. There are many different activities happening throughout the week, and individual chapters are also hosting their own events. Last year for EDAW, the organization launched the wildly successful ‘Recovery Is’ campaign. This year is all about fearlessness, with the ‘Not Fear ED’ campaign. It’s all about challenging yourself to go outside of your comfort zone, not only in recovery, but also in life. Last year, Liana was impressed with the submissions for the ‘Recovery Is’ campaign, and is excited to see what stories she will hear during this year’s campaign. Starting Project HEAL certainly pushed Liana and Kristina outside of their comfort zones. This year’s EDAW theme will inspire all of us to do the same- find our own, individual ways, to live more fearlessly.
You can find out more about the founders, EDAW, and its events on theProjectHEAL.org
Project HEAL co-founder Liana will be speaking on recovery at the Eating Disorder Treatment Collaborative/F.E.E.D’s FREE Long Island Public Conference on Sunday, March 1st, 2015 – 8:30 am – 12:30 pm at the Omni Conference Center in Uniondale. National eating experts, Doug Bunnell, Sondra Kronberg and others, will speak about awareness and treatment. There will be time allotted for questions and answers. For more information about the speakers and topics, or to register, please visit www.edaw2015.eventbrite.com and you can also call (516)513-1284!