July may be best known for watching fireworks, eating ice cream and splashing in the pool. But it’s also the month when we recognize that one out of every 250 kids in the United States lives with some form of juvenile arthritis (JA).
Yes, July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, dedicated to making everyone aware that kids get arthritis, too – and a reminder that, while a lot of progress has been made in treating it, there’s still a lot more to do to get to the bottom of this painful and debilitating disorder.
So this month, help spread awareness about the 300,000 kids nationwide who suffer from JA, and salute their bravery, strength and determination as mighty JA Warriors! Support your favorite Warrior by sharing your story, sharing our causeand making a donation today!
What to Know About JA
JA is an autoimmune disease where the child’s immune system mistakenly targets and attacks healthy tissue. There are many kinds of JA and other childhood rheumatic conditions, like lupus, scleroderma and juvenile dermatomyositis. Each has its own symptoms, treatments and prognosis. Though children with JA often have similar symptoms, such as pain, swelling, stiffness and rashes, there’s no single symptom that indicates with certainty that a child has it, requiring a thorough examination by a pediatric rheumatologist and blood work or imaging studies.
For a child diagnosed with JA today, the prognosis is better than it ever has been. The advent of new drugs and established track records with the older ones make it possible for most kids to live fulfilling, active lives, and in most cases avoid the severe, permanent joint damage that was common a generation ago.
Early detection is important, and determining the type of arthritis a child has is the first step. Remission, or inactive disease, is the bottom line goal, shutting off the disease as quickly as possible. With the variety of treatment options available today, and the early, aggressive use of therapies, doctors are now, more than ever, able to reduce or stop the inflammatory process and achieve remission, which may or may not last for the rest of the child’s life.
Looking for Groundbreaking Solutions
The Arthritis Foundation takes JA seriously and we’ve made it one of our very top priorities. We’re convening other health organizations and medical experts – from around the country and worldwide – to nail down what causes arthritis and other rheumatic diseases in children, and identify the safest and most effective treatment for each individual. We aim to eliminate trial and error, which is the only approach we have today, and we’re well on the way to accomplishing that objective.
Meanwhile, we’re helping families living with JA get up to speed on what they need to know, plus connect with one another so they can benefit from each other’s experiences. We host dozens of summer camps throughout the U.S., where kids get to meet peers who are going through the same thing, as well as learn how to manage the disease, gain self-confidence and just have fun being a kid.
JA Awareness Month also coincides with our National Juvenile Arthritis Conference, which kicks off in mid-July at the first of two locations, in Houston, followed by a second conference in August in Indianapolis. It’s our 33rd annual national event, which has touched the lives of more than 25,000 participants – kids, parents, siblings, caregivers and health care providers – over the years.
How You Can Help
Every voice counts – you can help us spread awareness about the 300,000 kids nationwide who strive to be JA Warriors!
. First, share your story about the triumphs and challenges they have had to face. Be an inspiration for others, and read about other Warriors in our community!
. Second, share our cause on social media. Tell your family and friends that it’s JA Awareness month and ask them to support our Warriors!
. Finally, you can help us fund research for a cure and ensure that we keep all of our worthwhile JA efforts – like JA Camps and Juvenile Arthritis Conferences – going each year, by donating. Every dollar helps!
Together, we can help our JA Warriors say Yes – to playing with friends, attending their classes – and to being a kid!
. Arthritis Foundation JA Summer Camps
. Arthritis Foundation National Juvenile Arthritis Conferences
. About Juvenile Arthritis