Monday, 18 March 2019 is world awareness day for young people with arthritis. To do that, we introduce you to Tasmyn, a 14-year-old girl who loves sport and is an achiever. She was selected for the Mainland U/15s basketball team, the Nelson U/15 softball team and Nelson College for Girls A softball team. She has arthritis.

Tasmyn, children with arthritis
Sharona and Tasmyn at the 2019 Arthritis New Zealand Children’s Camp in Matamata.

Often people are surprised to learn that children can have arthritis. Even more surprising is the fact that nobody knows how many children in New Zealand have arthritis.

Arthritis New Zealand is calling for funding to provide data on how many children in New Zealand are affected.

“This world awareness day for young people with arthritis, we urge government to recognise the need for robust data to enable us to better plan for services and support for families who have children with arthritis,” said Arthritis New Zealand CEO Philip Kearney.

Children’s Camp

The just concluded Arthritis New Zealand camp for children with arthritis had over 100 people attend. We know that families find it important to be able to meet with others and share their challenges and experiences.

At camp, children discussed their challenges of living with arthritis and shared their solutions with each other in support group sessions. In these groups, they found friends and peers who have a similar diagnosis and are walking the same path. Tasmyn was one of the children at camp and her mum finds it invaluable for connecting with other families.

However Tasmyn and other children aged under 15 at camp are not counted in any statistics and data about arthritis in New Zealand.

“March 18th has been designated as a world day to recognise that children get arthritis. Here in New Zealand, we need to know how many children are affected. A report by Deloitte Access Economics on the Economic Cost of Arthritis in New Zealand* released in September 2018 mentioned the lack of available data on the prevalence of juvenile arthritis and we need to correct this,” concluded Mr Kearney..

*Economic Cost of Arthritis in New Zealand 2018. Deloitte Access Economics. 

Arthritis New Zealand aims to improve the life of every person affected by arthritis. We are a national not-for-profit organisation focused on raising awareness, advocating for those with arthritis and providing advice and support. For more information, phone the helpline 0800 663 463, find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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