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Camp caters for kids with arthritis

Camp caters for kids with arthritis

Around 25 children with arthritis and their families are looking forward to a camp designed especially for them at Totara Springs, Matamata next weekend (23-25 February).

At the camp, run by Arthritis New Zealand, the children will be able to try all sorts of physical activities in a safe environment, enjoy some fun and make friends with others who understand what it’s like to have arthritis.

The children range in age from 6 years to 14 years and come from all over the country. Many of them have been recently diagnosed with JIA (Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis), the most common form of arthritis in children. JIA causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells, causing painful, stiff and swollen joints.

A number of youth leaders will also attend to support and encourage the younger ones by sharing their own experience of living with arthritis.
For parents and caregivers, Children’s Camp is an opportunity to talk with others who face the same challenges and learn from health professionals, including a paediatric rheumatologist, nurse specialist, physiotherapist and occupational therapist.

A diagnosis of arthritis can come as a shock to parents who typically think the condition only affects older people, says Arthritis New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Philip Kearney.

“Parents often think it’s just growing pains, until they realise something more serious is going on. Many families struggle with the chronic, unpredictable nature of arthritis, which can make life difficult for children and adolescents at a vulnerable age. It can be hard on siblings too,” he said.

Arthritis affects about 1 in 10,000 children every year – about the same rate as child cancers – although up-to-date figures are hard to come by. Specialist paediatric rheumatology multi-disciplinary teams are based in Auckland and the Hutt Valley, and hold clinics in 17 out of the 20 DHBs.

Arthritis New Zealand provides ongoing support for families living with arthritis and has been running children’s camps for the last six years in conjunction with Kids with Arthritis NZ (KWANZ). Families say the camps are a positive experience where children learn they are not the only ones with arthritis and adults find valuable information and support..

Arthritis New Zealand aims to improve the life of every person affected by arthritis. We are a national not-for-profit organisation focused on raising awareness, advocating for those with arthritis and providing advice and support. For more information, phone the helpline 0800 663 463, find us on Facebook, or visit www.arthritis.org.nz

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