by Georgie-Anne Cox

Arthritis NZ – Mateponapona Aotearoa celebrated a significant milestone last week with the official launch of the My JIA Journey journal at the head office in Wellington. This remarkable resource, developed by the Youth Advisory Group youth leaders from around New Zealand, is a tool for children and young adults living with arthritis or autoimmune conditions in Aotearoa. 

My JIA Journey journal is a one-year diary in which children and teens with arthritis or any autoimmune condition write down their thoughts, feelings and goals each week. The journal also features top tips and tools from the Youth Advisory Group that will help children and teens work towards managing their condition and living well.

The event was a really special day, marked by unity, shared wisdom, and inspiring speeches. 

MyJIAJourney Youth Leaders

In this photo from left to right: Philip Kearney (CE, Arthritis NZ), Jasmine White, India Heron, Jacob Attwood, Tom Flashoff, Matt Hutton, Rihanna Gaskell and Georgie-Anne Cox (Youth & Community Coordinator, Arthritis NZ), absent: Tessa Orange and Gabby Shepherd.

The My JIA Journey journal is the result of a collaborative effort of Jasmine White, India Heron, Jacob Attwood, Tom Flashoff, Matt Hutton, Rihanna Gaskell, Tessa Orange and Gabby Shepherd. These young individuals, who have all faced the challenges of living with arthritis or autoimmune conditions, dedicated their time and creativity to creating a resource that would serve as a guiding light for others facing similar struggles. Their shared experiences and unique insights were instrumental in shaping this resource. 

The launch event in Wellington hosted the lower North Island rheumatology nurse specialists and Dr Pricilla Campbell-Strokes, major funders who sponsor our annual camps, a few Arthritis NZ board members, Philip Kearney (CEO), and some staff members. This group of individuals all demonstrate their commitment to improving the lives of those affected by arthritis. 

The journal launch offered an opportunity for the youth leaders to share their stories and reasons for creating the My JIA Journey journal. These personal stories ranged from experiences, challenges, and triumphs faced during the diagnosis, treatment, and management of their own conditions.

A fun activity during the launch was for everyone to write down and share a piece of advice they wished someone had given them when young and some of these are shown in the wordcloud below. The collective wisdom shared by both the youth leaders and the other attendees served as a source of inspiration for all present. 

The launch of the “My JIA Journey” journal in Wellington was not only a momentous occasion but also a testament to the strength of the community dedicated to supporting those living with arthritis and autoimmune conditions in New Zealand. As our youth leaders expressed “this resource will undoubtedly serve as a beacon of hope and guidance for the youth, reminding them that they are not alone in their journey and that they have a supportive community to lean on”. 


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