Arthritis affects 1 in 5 people in New South Wales and it does not discriminate. The latest statistics show that juvenile arthritis now affects 1 in every 800 Australian children, currently 3000 in NSW.
For young people, the pain of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is not only physical. It can impact their self-esteem and confidence and undermine their sense of adventure, feelings of belonging and academic achievement.
Arthritis & Osteoporosis NSW (AONSW) needs your support to help the many children and families affected by this disease. Our programs include two annual children’s camps, Camp Twinkletoes and Camp Footloose, which provide education and support to families and young people, and webinars featuring health professionals who directly address JIA issues.
Can you help us provide these valuable services by making a donation?
Annaliese Roache, 15, developed oligoarthritis as a toddler. She has attended Camp Twinkletoes and Camp Footloose multiple times, and this year returned to Camp Twinkletoes as a volunteer. ‘When Annaliese was 22 months old, she suddenly stopped walking and wasn’t bearing weight,’ recalled her mother Alex. ‘She was miserable. It took a couple of months to get a proper diagnosis.’ Annaliese’s rheumatologist put her on medication and drained fluid from the two-year-old’s knees, ankle, wrist and fingers, enabling her to function again. Medication improved the condition in her joints and she started pre-school. ‘I noticed that when the other kids were running about, Annaliese would stand back so she wouldn’t be knocked over because she knew it would hurt if she fell,’ said Alex.
Annaliese first went to Camp Twinkletoes when she was six and has been to every Camp Footloose to date. ‘She looks forward to it every year and she has made great friends there,’ said Alex.
Annaliese can’t recall not having JIA, so the camps have given her much needed experiences of having the same physical abilities as her peers. ‘These days I understand my limits. Some days are bad and it’s difficult to walk. It’s unpredictable and hard for others to understand. I always feel like I’m being judged by others because of the unpredictability,’ she said.
‘Camp Footloose is more fun than school camps because I’m doing the activities with people who are going through what I’m going through, and the info sessions let us talk about ways to deal with the arthritis and how to cope at school.’
For a closer look at Camp Footloose in action go to YouTube: Camp Footloose 2016.
With your help we can support many more children like Annaliese, and their families. As 30 June approaches, many of you are looking at your end of financial year balance and AONSW would welcome your generous support. I know you would want every child who faces the pain and limitations of juvenile arthritis to have the proper support that AONSW provides.
CEO, Arthritis & Osteoporosis NSW