The 2021 Virtual National Juvenile Arthritis Conference Was a Wonderful Success

A big THANK YOU to all JA families, planning committee members and sponsors for making the 2021 Virtual National Juvenile Arthritis Conference a huge success! This year, we welcomed more than 850 total attendees — including 373 first-time participants — from 42 states and three different countries.

The JA Conference offered 71 virtual sessions and gave attendees the opportunity to connect and network with other moms, dads, families, siblings, caregivers and, of course, young adults, teens and kids with JA who share similar challenges and triumphs. Even in these trying times, we showed the world that together we are stronger than JA!

“My daughter was recently diagnosed and had never met any kids with JA. She enjoyed meeting and playing virtually with kids that experience the same things she does. The JA Conference gave her a sense of community and showed her that she wasn’t alone.”

—JA Mom and Conference Attendee

The expanded conference program offered more than 30 live sessions on a variety of topics including our COVID-19 session series and a conference favorite session: a live chat with Natalie Decker, NASCAR driver and arthritis warrior, who joined families to share her inspirational story and answer questions from conference attendees. The JA Conference also introduced an SJIA track to the conference program and provided a variety of sessions for kids and teens including another conference favorite: the Panda Bear Clinic.

Miss any of the JA Conference content? Browse the JA Conference session videos.

 This year, Katy & Bridget Carter of Winnetka, California, received the 2021 Steve and Liz Smith Legacy Award for their many years of volunteer service to the JA Conference and the JA community. Katy and Bridget were honored for developing, implementing and building the sibling program at the JA Conference. Check out the surprise presentation and touching reaction during the closing session. The JA Conference also recognized outstanding volunteer leadership by awarding the 2021 JA Awards of Excellence. The awards are presented to a physician, youth leader, young adult, parent and health care professional who show exceptional leadership and commitment to the JA community. This year’s winners include: Lily Laurent, Dawn Hafeli Award for Youth Leadership; Haley Mapp, Young Adult Leadership Award; Anne Jackson, RN, Patti Rettig Award for Health Care Professional Leadership; Dr. Ashley Cooper, Earl Brewer Award for Physician Leadership; and Bob and Jen Tonning, Parent Leadership Award. Congratulations award winners!

“Thank you, JA Conference! I learned a lot in the sessions about how to make the medical transition smoother. The conference empowered me to know that I have choices in my care!”

—JA Young Adult and Conference Attendee

A huge thank you to ALL attendees of the JA Conference, as well as conference chairs, Jenn and Shane Cox; special guest, Natalie Decker; plus, the planning committee; volunteers; subject matter experts; physicians; and guest speakers. And special thanks to National Presenting Sponsor, Abbvie; Supporting Sponsor, Alpha Omicron Pi; and additional supporter, Genentech.

 Save the dates for the 2022 National Juvenile Arthritis Conference, where we are excited to return to an in-person event. Next year’s event will feature a “Family Reunion” theme and will be held July 14 to 17, 2022, in Orlando, Florida. We hope to see you there!

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