Having to learn how to self-inject medication at the age of 11 years is a common experience amongst teenagers and children who have a form of arthritis. Now 21 years old, Jacob Toresen is no stranger to self-administering injections, learning to limit himself, and the nasty trials and errors of finding a treatment plan that works, while living with an invisible illness, and the isolation attached to it during the school and university years.

Jacob and TP at Teen’s Camp 2019

Teenagers with arthritis do not fit the stereotype of arthritis affecting older people only. “Isn’t that what old people get?” is a common reaction when teens with arthritis tell others about their arthritis. Often young people with arthritis are overlooked and their needs not considered when youth health and wellbeing are under the spotlight. Arthritis New Zealand believes that teens with arthritis have some clear needs and held its annual camp for this group from 6 to 8 December at El Rancho on the Kapiti Coast.

Fifteen teenagers from around New Zealand came together for education, leadership development and the opportunity to meet with others their age who know what it is like to be a teenager who has arthritis.

Two youths that helped lead the teens this weekend are young men who have grown up with arthritis since childhood and understand the challenges of growing up with the condition that is too often only associated with old age.

Jacob Toresen is one of those leaders, and his story illustrates these challenges. Diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis at 11 years old, Jacob said that at the time he did not realise the impact this would have on his life. “It changed completely,” he recalls. “I couldn’t run around with my friends at school, and I felt left out. I had to have many tests and trials to find the right medication and going to an Arthritis New Zealand camp was unbelievably beneficial for me. I learned I was not alone and that was so helpful.”

That’s why Jacob returns to Arthritis New Zealand camps. He shares his story and helps others learn that life with arthritis does not mean you cannot achieve and do well.

Jacob has finished his final year of law school and is a great role model for the teens gathering this weekend. Activities include team-building games, education about arthritis and its management, and leadership skills and opportunities.

“It is so important to learn to pace yourself, learn limits and realise that sometimes you may need to take a break. Arthritis camps have been a highlight of my journey growing up with arthritis. I want all families who have children with arthritis to know about these camps” says Jacob.

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Learning that your child has arthritis can be confusing and worrying. You may have lots of questions, especially if reaching a diagnosis has taken some time, as it often does. JIA (juvenile idiopathic arthritis) is the most common type of arthritis in children and young people, but they can also get other forms, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Caring for a child with arthritis affects the whole family. Besides having to explain the condition to family members and friends, there may be challenges with schooling and extra-curricular activities. The good news is that with good management and support, your child can live a normal life. They don’t have to miss out on the fun of being a child! Some will even outgrow the condition and will not need treatment as adults... bit.ly/2Tvw8iB #arthritis #arthritisnz #arthritisawareness #jia #juvenilearthritis #juvenileidiopathicarthritis #childrenwitharthritis
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We have had an overwhelming response! We are working through the requests and can no longer accept more enquiries. Thank you so much for your interest. Those chosen will be contacted soon.
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Just joined the 100 subscribers on YouTube club. VIRTUAL HIGH-FIVE! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGrg2mI4fUVpJoFRXDg7sCg

If you or your organisation would like to be involved in Sharp NZ and Arthritis New Zealand's Golf Day in Wellington please contact David, dhenry@sharp.net.nz by Monday 27th January. All funds raised go to Arthritis NZ.
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http://bit.ly/35ScyQ1 Some exercise guidelines for people with ankylosing spondylitis - from a physiotherapist. #ankylosingspondylitis #AS #exercise

http://bit.ly/36FsfuE A scientific showcase featuring updates on the latest in #osteoarthritis trials in Australia & New Zealand

Still stuck for ideas for that special someone that has everything? Why not buy them a year's worth of entertainment vouchers, and tell them a portion of the money went to your favourite charity? http://bit.ly/2XC9JjE

http://bit.ly/36FsfuE A scientific showcase featuring updates on the latest in #osteoarthritis trials in Australia & New Zealand

Give the #gift of #entertainment this year, and support your favourite charity at the same time! http://bit.ly/2XC9JjE

http://bit.ly/35sLFCE A recent Discussion Document from the National Party identifies gout arthritis as a significant health issue for Māori (page 27). The questionnaire below it has 2 questions about arthritis (questions 10 & 11). People with arthritis should answer them.

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