Each year as the Juvenile Arthritis Conference commences; another group also comes together at the conference. While there are over 700 kids in attendance with their families, the Young Adult Program, or “YA” as it’s affectionately known, are for attendees 18 and older. Many YA participants previously attended JA Conferences as a kid, while some are coming for the first time this year!
Young Adults face a completely new set of challenges as they grow up with juvenile arthritis. Going off to college, living on their own and starting a new career are a few of the topics often talked about in program sessions. This opportunity allows young adults to hear from their peers, different panelists and have a ton of fun!
Highlights of the YA Program included:
- Living Beyond the Disease
New to the conference this year was a Young Adult panel just for young adults! An all-star panel of rheumatologist Sandra Pagnussat, MD, racecar driver Todd Peck and actress Ana Villafane shared their extraordinary stories about living with arthritis, how they turned a battle with a challenging disease into an opportunity to do amazing things and how their disease continues to inspire them!
- Cooking Healthy, on a Dime, with Little Time!
Speaker Jerry Craft spoke about simple strategies to take control of what to eat while living on their own. Knowing how crazy busy life can be, there may not be time to cook three nutritious meals a day. The last thing we want is any young adult falling into a junk food diet. This session covered hacks for creating dishes that are quick, affordable, healthy and tasty!
- Day 3 Fun!
Breakout sessions about Research and Advocacy led the day, with a Young Adult panel for parents to hear from some amazing YA leaders. The Young Adult group also had a special session in talking about relationships and how to talk about arthritis with family and friends. Later in the evening, the Young Adults took to Downtown Disney and spent the night bowling and hanging out with new friends.