CHELMSFORD – There are nearly 40 clubs and organizations from which students can choose at Chelmsford High School, but few with a profoundly personal mission as the newest club on campus.
The Body Positive Alliance is equal parts support group, motivational messenger, and safe haven.
It is the result of a January 2023 English class conversation about body image between Jennifer Yu and Sofia Trottier, then sophomores. A day later, Ms. Trottier had a similar conversation with then-sophomore Emma Kelley.
The three shared the same concern. “We started talking about how we wished there was a place in school where you could go and meet with other people and have a supportive environment for people of all shapes and sizes,” Ms. Trottier said.
Though still in its infancy, the eight members of the BPA have plans for the 2023-24 academic year. “We started the club with only a few months left in the school year and we met every other week,” Ms. Trottier said. “We were not able to organize any fundraisers, but that’s a big goal of ours for next year.”
Twice during the spring semester, the group created chalk murals on the sidewalks around the high school with many messages such as ‘Honor ur Body,’ ‘Fuel your body,’ and ‘There is only 1 YOU.’ Meetings are every other Thursday in the CHS Lecture Hall, where students see similar messages on the whiteboard.
Awareness is the goal for the 2023-24 school year, said Ms. Yu. “We’re looking forward to interacting more with the student body next year,” she said. “This would of course include the chalk initiative as well as leveraging 2024 National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (Feb. 26-Mar. 2) to host an eating disorder campaign.”
The BPA also has plans to host a movie night event to promote body positive media.
The BPA effectively uses Instagram (@chelmsford_bpa) for its messaging, and the group is expecting to expand its follower base – just below 75 recently. During 2023 National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (Feb. 27-Mar. 5), the group offered resources for students who struggle and will do the same in 2024.
Among its first posts were several alarming facts regarding eating disorders and teens with physical disabilities.
• 1 in 10 teens have physical disabilities
• 95 percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12-25
• Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness
It is facts such as these the BPA wants to bring to the forefront. It also wants CHS students to know there are solutions and support.
“We will offer them a safe place to share their feelings and support and encouragement,” Ms. Trottier said.