The Arthritis Foundation is excited to announce the launch of the iPeer2Peer Mentorship Program, a new initiative that aims to provide help and support for teens with juvenile arthritis and related childhood rheumatic diseases.
The iPeer2Peer Program was developed by the iOUCH (improving Outcomes in Child Health through Technology) research team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Ontario, Canada to help teens with chronic disease better manage their condition.
The program itself matches teens with mentors comprised of young adults who have learned to effectively manage their disease. Using an online video-calling platform, mentors and teens will schedule six sessions that last approximately 30 minutes over the course of three months. Topics can range from attending school while managing the disease or social situations that might cause anxiety or frustration.
By using web-based technology, we will be able to connect teens and young adults throughout the entire country, making education and support accessible regardless of location.
“We are very excited for the inaugural session of the iPeer2Peer Program to begin,” says Jennifer Ziegler. “As teens get older, their experiences are constantly changing. By providing a mentor who has already been through much of what they are currently going through, teens will have another level of support beyond their family and medical care team.”
Prior to the 2016 National JA Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in August last year, selected mentors gathered for three days of intensive training led by Arthritis Foundation JA Transitions Director Jennifer Ziegler, YA Leader Jennifer Horonjeff and iPeer2Peer program managers from the Hospital for Sick Children in Canada.
Young adults from across the country were selected to become mentors in 2016, and have been through training in preparation for their first session. These young adult volunteers are ages 18-25 and have been living with juvenile arthritis or related rheumatic diseases. The mentors have a proven track record in their own disease management and in their ability to serve as a positive role model for teens needing additional help and support.
If you are a teen or a parent of a teen interested in applying for the iPeer2Peer Program, please visit the online application site.