Children receive new backpacks in kickoff to Childhood Month
TORONTO, March 11, 2013 /CNW/ - 9-year-old Aaliyah Hester and a group of
other children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) received
special backpacks today from Janet Yale, President and CEO of The
The presentations were made at the kickoff to Childhood Arthritis Month,
held at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). Over 60,000*
young Canadians face the debilitating chronic pain of arthritis,
robbing them of their childhoods. The Arthritis Society wants to hand
back childhood, and help these kids enjoy being kids.
In recognition of March as Childhood Arthritis Month, Ms. Yale announced
that The Arthritis Society has established three new programs: a
National Childhood Arthritis Advisory Committee, a Backpack Program for
children 10 and under diagnosed with arthritis, and a Donations Program
to fund research and programs targeted specifically towards addressing
the challenges of childhood arthritis.
"Over 4.6 million Canadians currently live with arthritis," said Ms.
Yale. "But how many people would guess that so many of those are below
the age of sixteen - or that arthritis is among the most common of
childhood chronic conditions? The answer is: Too many."
"It hurts, sometimes a lot", 9-year-old Aaliyah told the assembled group
of children, parents and health professionals about living with
arthritis. "And it makes me sad sometimes. But I'm getting treatment,
and now there are lots of things that I can do. I made our school
volleyball team, and we won our tournament."
Aaliyah, from Barrie, ON, lives with polyarticular-JIA, a severe form of
childhood arthritis where the autoimmune system attacks healthy growing
joints, causing crippling pain, inflammation and restricted motion. It
is suggested that JIA afflicts about 1 in 1000 children, and poly-JIA
afflicts roughly 1 in 10,000, but those figures are estimates and more
research is needed.
"JIA is frustrating," explained Dr. Brian Feldman, Senior Scientist and
Head of SickKids' Rheumatology Department, and newly appointed Chair of
the National Childhood Arthritis Advisory Committee, "for the simple
reason that it is 'idiopathic' - which literally means we don't know
why it happens or where it comes from. The new donations program
announced today will help in part to fund research to answer important
questions like these. Answers that will lead directly to treatments and
techniques that will help these kids lead lives with less pain and with
"Something as simple as a backpack can make a big difference", said
parent advocate Mark Trenton, whose daughter Laura has been living with
poly-JIA since she was seven. "Just knowing that someone understands
what we're going through and is there to help."
In naming Dr. Feldman to Chair the new Advisory Committee, Janet Yale
stressed the importance of collaboration. "Initiatives cannot be
developed in isolation from the physicians, families and other
stakeholders who know the challenges and the solutions best. This
committee includes health professionals, caregivers and young Canadians
living with arthritis - and their experience and expertise will help
inform and guide The Society's Childhood Arthritis strategy and future
programs and initiatives. Because of their engagement, those programs
will be better. They will do more."
*source: Public Health Agency of Canada, Life with Arthritis in Canada:
A Personal and Public Health Challenge (Ottawa: Her Majesty the Queen
in Right of Canada, 2010)
ABOUT THE ARTHRITIS SOCIETY
The Arthritis Society is dedicated to a vision of living well while
creating a future without arthritis. It is Canada's principal health
charity providing education, programs and support to 4.6 million
Canadians with arthritis and their loved ones. Since its founding in
1948, The Society has been the largest non-government funder of
arthritis research in Canada by investing more than $180 million in
projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and
care of people with arthritis. Visit The Society at www.arthritis.ca.
Image with caption: "9-year-old Aaliyah Hester talks about her new backpack and bear with The Arthritis Society's Kelly Morphet (CNW Group/The Arthritis Society)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130311_C4105_PHOTO_EN_24465.jpg
Image with caption: "Dr. Brian Feldman, Janet Yale and Dr. Shirley Tse with children who received backpacks as part of The Arthritis Society's new program announcements (CNW Group/The Arthritis Society)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130311_C4105_PHOTO_EN_24466.jpg
SOURCE: The Arthritis Society
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