Preventing and Addressing Teen Eating Disorders: Ilona’s Room

By Gelena Blishteyn
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Launching this month, Ilona’s Room, an innovative new teen program at the J, is supported by a generous grant from the Ilona Memory Fund. Ilona Melyokhin was a talented young professional in the Russian-speaking Jewish community in New York, whose life was cut short by the ravaging effects of an eating disorder. In her memory, with the hope that no other family should ever have to suffer a loss as great as theirs, Ilona’s parents and friends came together to establish a charitable foundation, setting a model for the power of philanthropy and social action in the face of loss and injustice. Marks JCH is proud to be the first grantee of the fund. Through Ilona’s Room, teen girls in our community will participate in monthly programs throughout the academic year, designed to educate them about healthy eating, to promote positive self-image, to equip them with coping skills in the face of stress, and to form strong social supports during the difficult years of adolescence.

Parent workshops will encourage open communication between parents and teens, and equip parents to notice the early signs of eating disorders before dangerous situations emerge. On November 12, Marks JCH will host a fundraising activity for the Fund, expanding their work in the community and increasing awareness about the prevalence and dangers of eating disorders among our teens. The impact of the Fund’s investment in the J will be seen in our ability to help more adolescent girls to live healthy lives, with the support of their families and our community. We are grateful to Ilona’s family for entrusting Marks JCH with the responsibility of helping to keep her memory alive by helping a new generation of girls from emigre families in south Brooklyn.

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