These are the heartfelt words of Ralph. His daughter Zara was diagnosed with arthritis when she was two years old. She is now 12.

This weekend Zara will join more than 25 children and their parents/caregivers at the Arthritis New Zealand camp for children with arthritis at the beautiful Totara Springs Camp near Matamata. Many of the children who are attending this year’s camp have been recently diagnosed with arthritis.

One of the benefits for the kids is meeting someone else with arthritis, they think they are the only one in New Zealand with this condition.

Other than their diagnosis of arthritis these kids have many challenges. On most days they look completely normal and full of energy, a day later, they can’t move and in real pain.

Finding out you have arthritis doesn’t need to hold you back and they will enjoy activities like abseiling, flying fox, archery, raft building, kayaking and then the fun of the warm water hydroslide. After all that there is time to soak in the hot pool and relax tired bodies.

It is important that the parents and caregivers get to meet other adults caring for children with arthritis. For while the camp is primarily for the children, many of the adults will never have met anyone else who has a child with arthritis.

Arthritis New Zealand Chief Executive Sandra Kirby said this is an important annual event. “This year the timing is particularly significant with Children’s Day falling on Sunday 5 March. What better way to celebrate Children’s Day than having a camp for children living with arthritis?”

“Our camp will enable them to meet other children with arthritis, and give them the opportunity to learn more about managing their condition, in a fun, safe and supportive environment.”

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