Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hey, friends! It's Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have another great interview for you this week. Today, I’m excited to cruise around with Ilaria Salucci, the founder of Eat Your Life. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Ilaria! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your startup?
Ilaria: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! My project aims to educate teenagers on the importance of nutrition while preventing eating disorders from arising among the young. I have condensed my research and personal advice into a website, eatyourlife.org, where teens can read and learn what society and school do not teach: to love themselves. The content is accessible to everyone to reach a vast, diverse audience. Moreover, users can create an account to reflect on their achievements and growth by filling out a journaling form.
Spiffy: That sounds awesome! What motivated you to tackle this challenge?
Ilaria: While quarantining three years ago, I gained a little weight and took it as a failure. When COVID-19 severely impacted our lives, everyone felt out of control: but I did not. I could count calories, step on the balance and cook light meals, destroying myself alone. Not only did I lose kilos, but also nights out, happiness, smiles, friendships, and tasty meals. Even though healing from disordered eating was tough, it made me realize how diet culture is rooted in our society: I had to change something.
Spiffy: Thank you for sharing that story! How would you say your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Ilaria: Eat Your Life intends to deliver free and comprehensive nutritional education in a society where social media only highlights the slimmest, fittest bodies. Learning how to fuel ourselves is essential to eliminate food inequalities: right now, malnourishment is as widespread as obesity. I dream of a world where physical and mental wellness are equally important. Through my work, I intend to promulgate how happiness matters more than appearance, promoting critical thinking and self-awareness.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your community or audience?
Ilaria: In September, I got selected as one of the 100 Rise Global Winners for 2022. Through the selection process, I created and presented my project, managing to define its objectives and sharing them with other finalists. Building a startup has taught me to be more impactful, fighting to share my ideas and experiences. Receiving feedback from a diverse community made my website accessible and effective. I am more than grateful for the opportunity the Rise cohort has given me to make my voice heard.
Spiffy: Wonderful! Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Ilaria: In January of last year, I was intensively researching for my project when I ran into a roadblock: I caught Covid-19 as the deadline for the Rise Challenge was drawing near. Despite lacking support from my loved ones, as I had to isolate myself all day, I finalized the website in a week. Endeavoring to finish my project gave me the strength to enjoy the quarantine while following a dream. I felt valuable and grounded in myself: I strived to help my community think and resonate.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Ilaria: Since creating my website, I have talked about it to my friends, finding out how most of them have at least once struggled with disordered eating or body shame. I would love to encourage everyone to speak, reaching out for help when needed. Sometimes, it might feel like you are alone in struggling, but if you look around, you will find someone that has suffered just as you are. Never be afraid to be vulnerable and express yourself for who you are and not for what others want you to be.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Ilaria—it’s been an honor!
Ilaria Salucci is a 16-year-old Italian, chatty, energetic, and curious girl. She loves playing the piano, writing, editing videos, and playing sports. She is passionate about STEM subjects: her dream is to fight deadly diseases, assuring health and rights to everyone, everywhere. She is the founder of Eat Your Life. (Nominated by Rise of Schmidt Futures. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 21, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.