Challenges for school children with arthritis

Living with arthritis can be an isolating experience as a child, misunderstood and negatively labelled by their student peers.

  • Sep. 11, 2016 8:00 a.m.

Living with arthritis can be an isolating experience

Three out of every 1,000 children lives with arthritis, and the return to school can be a time of potential apprehension for them.

Most people are not aware  that kids can get arthritis, which is why The Arthritis Society is sharing the MediKidz comic book, a resource written by pediatric rheumatologists.  September is also Arthritis Awareness Month across Canada.

Living with arthritis can be an isolating experience, especially as a child.  It is often difficult to explain why a child can’t participate in gym class, or may need to rest right after school or throughout the day.

Kids can be misunderstood and labeled by their peers, and Adrienne Dalla-Longa lived this story.

Now 27, Adrienne reflects on when she was diagnosed with Juvenile Ideopathic Arthritis (JIA) and started undergoing treatment.   “I had to wear ankle, knee and wrist braces, and in elementary school, I was prevented from fully participating in many activities, including gym time.

“The teachers didn’t know what activities were appropriate and didn’t want to risk my getting hurt, so I was made to sit out.  This experience resulted in me being bullied by my peers, who did not understand why I was unable to participate.  I wish that a resource like this comic book was available to me when I was in school.”

The Arthritis Society is encouraging everyone to learn more about JIA with the help of the “MediKidz” in this playful yet informing and meaningful comic book.  It was written by doctors for kids and the digital flipbook is available at www.arthritis.ca/childhood.

Hard copies of the comic book are also available through the society by calling 604-714-5550 or emailling info@bc.arthritis.ca.

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