Calgary parents work to fill gaps in eating disorder care


Nicole Cowper was 11-years-old when she began suffering from an eating disorder.

“It started with me just unintentionally restricting what I was eating, and then I realized, hey, this is something I could have complete control over,” the now 19-year-old recalls.

Anorexia quickly took over the young girl’s life, and within three  months it nearly killed her.

“When I was in the hospital waiting in line, I actually had a heart attack.”

Cowper’s mother, Anita Simon, says it was a terrible time.

“It was probably the worst thing possible to see your daughter close to the brink of death, and not be able to assist in any way.”

Cowper was treated within the Alberta health system for two years before her family sought help from a residential facility in the United States. The family paid out of pocket for nine months of care, but Cowper says the investment ultimately saved her life.

“There is not a doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t gone into residential treatment, I’d be dead.”

Calgary does not currently have a residential eating disorder treatment facility, but a new organization is hoping to change that. A group of families touched by eating disorders has come together to form the Silver Linings Foundation. Its objective is to support families, and work towards opening a residential facility accessible to anyone in need.

“One of our principal goals is to provide this for a no fee service, so that those families that can’t afford professional care can get treatment,” explains Brad Pierce, one of the foundation’s founding board members.

The group is holding an open house for anyone wanting to learn more about their efforts.