Empowering young leaders
20 June 2022
More than 170 youth leaders from seven Zionist organisations across Australia and New Zealand attended a training webinar last week to prepare youth leaders to respond to eating disorders in winter camps.
The Australian Friends of Shaare Zedek in collaboration with the Australian Zionist Youth Council introduced Dr Toni Pikoos, clinical psychologist and postdoctoral researcher, to address concerns about the issue and outline practical strategies.
Eating disorders in teenagers can occur when families and carers least expect them.
Responding appropriately and accessing the right help remain critical challenges that can have profound implications.
Dr Pikoos said about nine per cent of Australians will experience an eating disorder some time in their lives.
Further, nearly a third of adolescents engage in disordered eating in any given year, a figure that is increasing.
“Madrichim are in an important and privileged position. Young people may develop trust to share their concerns and anxieties with them. The madrichim may notice negative body image or disordered eating at weekly meetings or on camps, Dr Pikoos said.
“Given how common eating concerns are, some leaders may be experiencing these issues themselves, want to know how to navigate them and act as strong role models for their chanichim,” the doctor said.
Shaare Zedek’s Adolescent Medicine Service treats teenagers with severe eating disorders and works to educate parents, schools and medical professionals to identify the signs and intervene early to save lives.
After the webinar, participants were invited to register for four additional workshops to support them as positive role models.
The AFSZ is also launching an eBook on the subject, titled “The Langauge of Seeking Help”.
Written by Jaimee Krawitz, a counsellor with the lived experience of an eating disorder, it is a culturally sensitive educational resource for parents and caregivers.
The book draws on input from and the expertise of stakeholders in Australia and Israel.
It will be translated into Hebrew and Arabic for distribution at Shaare Zedek for patients who present to the clinic.
The chair of AFSZ, Dr Allan Garfield says the organisation is dedicated to saving lives in Israel.
“Shaare Zedek Medical Center represents medical excellence, ethics and compassion. We want to share the innovation and compassion as well as support meaningful health promotion initiatives in our local community, Dr Garfield said.