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YSU students walk in honor of deceased student from Austintown

October 9, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Back in 2012, Austintown student Danielle Peters suddenly passed away from an eating disorder. The Fitch graduate was entering her first year in fashion classes at YSU.

"She was in her first year and just loved her class," said Danielle's mother Mary Ann Peters. "Danielle wanted to be a fashion designer or writer. She was a talented artist. Danielle passed away July 21, 2012 at the age of 21."

"I wasn't fortunate to have Danielle in any of my classes at YSU," said YSU Fashion Merchandising Instructor Jennifer Frank. "She passed away before being able to take my classes. I have developed a good relationship with her mother though, and now feel like I know Danielle."

Article Photos

YSU Fashion Merchandising Instructor Lauren Aey and YSU students Gabrielle Coggins, Jennifer Frank, Chia Yun Lai, Kelly Balasko, Andrew Zajac, Destiny Reese and Chase Tyillian pose for a photo after walking in the National Eating Disorders Association Walk at the Cleveland Zoo on Sept. 29. Not pictured was Willie Mellot.

It was Frank's students who came together to remember Danielle and to bring awareness to eating disorders, which affects close to 30 million Americans each year. To keep Danielle's memory alive and to bring awareness, Frank's Fashion Show Productions and Promotions class puts on the EveryBODY Fashion Show that features models of all shapes and sizes on the runway.

"We also have speakers every year who are in recovery from an eating disorder share their personal stories," Frank said. "We want to really stress that beauty comes from within. It has nothing to do with the sizes of your clothes."

As for the zoo walk, it was an event put on by the National Eating Disorders Association. The organization holds walks all over the country.

"We were asked to participate in the Cleveland walk by Nina Schubert who is in charge of the Cleveland walk," Frank said. "She spoke at our 2018 fashion show about her journey to recover from her eating disorder."

Schubert said there were 40 teams at the Cleveland Zoo this year and 342 pre-registered walkers, with another 100 expected to register the day of the walk. She said the focus is a very important topic that needs to be bought to light.

"Eating disorders are a public health crisis," Schubert said. "They have the highest morality rate under opioid addiction. It is extremely important for us to get education to schools and family because eating disorders can affect anyone at any age."

She said there are five different types of eating disorderly and each is unique and each needs to be treated as soon as possible.

"I hope to help people see their worth," Schubert said. "I hope we can help show people why we need to take action and give those who are struggling, the resources to get help. Everyone deserves recovery and they don't have to go through this alone."

Second year Fashion Merchandising student Lauren Aey was among the YSU team members walking for Danielle. She understands the importance of being aware of eating disorders.

"I participated in the NEDA walk in honor and support of the Danielle Peters' family, and Danielle," she said. "As, a fashion student it is important for us to participate to raise awareness of the issues following an eating disorder and to raise money. I also participated because I went to high school with a friend who had an eating disorder so I walked in honor and support of her as well. I didn't know Danielle personally, I never got the opportunity to meet her. I found out about her through teacher Jennifer Frank who hosts and puts together the EveryBODY fashion show in honor of Danielle."

She said her friend went through treatment and now shares her experience with others.

"The fashion merchandising students know it is important to take what they learned from the walk and share their knowledge by letting others know that if someone is suffering that it is okay to seek for help," Aey said. "Every year the fashion merchandising students host the 'EveryBODY' fashion show in honor of Danielle Peters to raise awareness of the harmful impacts eating disorders have on both men and women. By walking in the fashion show, the students encourage everyone to feel comfortable in their own skin; through different body shapes and sizes. The fashion show leaves a lasting impression and message that it is important to love yourself and that EveryBODY is beautiful."

The next EveryBODY fashion show will be in the spring of 2020 and the YSU students will also be planning to walk again at the next National Eating Disorders Association event at the Cleveland Zoo.

"I Love that YSU does this every year," said Mary Ann Peters. "It is so important to get the message out about what a serious, deadly disease eating disorders are."



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