Each summer as school lets out and the weather starts to get warmer, there’s an excitement in the air felt all the way from Long Beach, California to the shores of Long Island, New York. There are always good reasons to be excited for some time off, but for many children, teens, young adults and their families affected by juvenile arthritis and related rheumatic diseases – the Arthritis Foundation’s National Juvenile Arthritis Conference has become the summer event to look forward to.
Over two long weekends in late June and early August, more than 1,800 attendees made their way to Seattle, Washington and Washington, DC to take part the 2018 JA Conference. As done in previous years, the Arthritis Foundation hosted two JA Conference locations to serve even more kids, families and young adults affected by childhood rheumatic diseases across the country, while also welcoming home returning veteran families.
In both cities, more than half of conference participants were first time attendees to the JA Conference, experiencing everything the four-day conference had to offer. Kids and teens were treated to their own specialized programming including peer-led activities, educational sessions and fun social happenings. At the same time, parents choose their own breakout sessions throughout the day – from disease-specific sessions hosted by top doctors and health care experts to topics such as educational rights in schools and transitioning from adolescent to adult medicine. This year, we also live-streamed two of our most popular sessions for those that were not able to join us in person.