Although many people think of arthritis as an older person’s disease, arthritis affects people of all ages, including children. In fact, an estimated 300,000 children are living with juvenile arthritis. Each year, we bring JA kids and families together at our annual Juvenile Arthritis Conference to share their experiences, spend time with other kids and families like them, and ultimately, to instill a sense of hope and optimism that the Arthritis Foundation is here to support them in their journey to live their best lives.
The theme for this year’s Juvenile Arthritis Conference which took place in Orlando last month was “Hope Grows Here,” and boy did we see that theme come to life. The kids and families that attended the 2015 JA Conference brought such an energy and optimistic spirit to the event, despite the fact that each day, they live with a disease that has the ability to limit that energy and spirit. We asked our JA kids, “What’s your biggest hope, despite living with arthritis?” Check out the video below to learn more about the fantastic hopes and dreams of just a few of the hundreds of thousands of children across the country living with juvenile arthritis:
That’s a wrap, folks! After four incredible days of educational sessions, networking opportunities, tears, joy and tears of joy, the 2015 Juvenile Arthritis Conference is officially in the books!
The Opening Dinner was truly spectacular, as the room filled with 1,700 parents, kids and caregivers eager to greet old friends and meet new ones. When Ana Villafañe took the stage, she wowed everybody in the room – her amazing talent and true passion for kids with JA were spellbinding.
The official programming kicked off Friday morning in grand style, with an overview of the new Arthritis Foundation brand and some amazing JA success stories by Ann Palmer, President and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation and Board Chairman, Michael Ortman. Mark Durand’s Optimistic Parenting presentation gave all parents tangible ideas for using positive self-talk to improve parenting effectiveness and create happier lives! Friday Fun Night provided different activities for all age groups ranging from a glow party to poolside fun!
Saturday kicked off early with a wonderful opening session recognizing some amazing individuals. Ann Palmer and Michael Ortman presented Awards of Excellence to both youth and adult leaders, along with professional and medical leadership recognition. Saturday’s General Session gave us all an educational introduction to our new research partner, the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA), and the important role parents can play in research going forward. More breakouts gave parents, young adults and kids a chance to learn about research, advocacy and more! Continue reading Hope Grows Here: Highlights from the 2015 Juvenile Arthritis Conference→
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!