When is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month and How Can I Help Bring Awareness to this Chronic Disease?

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juvenile arthritis awareness

 

Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month is a time to bring awareness to the chronic condition of Juvenile Arthritis. This awareness month takes place in July and uses the symbol of the blue awareness ribbon to call attention to the need for funding, advocacy, and support of those who are affected.

 

Sharing Experiences

 

One way to raise awareness is to wear a Juvenile Arthritis Ribbon. Another is to share your story with others about living with Juvenile Arthritis. Sharing your story breaks down barriers to misconceptions about needed care for this chronic disorder, and lets others put a human face on this complex disease. It also helps to increase funding and research for the benefit of all afflicted with JA. 

 

It’s important to share your story with legislators, policymakers, and other advocates to address barriers to care. These barriers include the cost of treatment, side effects of medications, the limited number of specialists available to treat this condition, and other insurance-related issues.

 

Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

 

It’s necessary to understand the nature of Juvenile Arthritis, especially during July, which focuses attention on this disease. Just as adults get arthritis, children, too, may become affected. According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common type of Juvenile Arthritis is called Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, also known as JIA. The word idiopathic means that the origin of this chronic condition is not understood. While the exact cause or causes are not understood, it is believed that JIA begins when the immune system becomes overactive and creates inflammation. 

 

JIA is chronic, meaning that it is long-lasting. This chronic condition may last a limited amount of time, or into adulthood. JIA begins in children and adolescents prior to their sixteenth birthday. While most types of JIA are more prevalent in girls, enthesitis-related JIA (a form of the disease that involves inflammation of the places where ligaments and tendons attach to the bone), is more common in boys. Children of all races and ethnic backgrounds can get this disease.

 

So why is it important to observe Juvenile Arthritis Month in July, wearing a blue Juvenile Arthritis Ribbon to call attention to this cause? The reason it is important is that the key to changing government policies, research, and funding is through grassroots advocacy. That means those affected by this chronic condition, and their loved ones, need to let others know about government policies and the need for funding and research. These grassroots advocates shine a spotlight on Juvenile Arthritis and intensify their advocacy efforts during the month of July even more than they do during other times of the year. Wearing a personalized awareness ribbon, with a name, date or message encourages conversation and awareness of the way JIA personally affects them and others. Personalized Cause offers these ribbons, which are individually engraved with a name, date, or message to encourage awareness.

 

How Can a Person Raise Awareness During Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month?

 

There are many forms of advocacy in which a person can engage. These include representing and speaking up for yourself and others affected by this chronic condition. It is important to be informed about the issues and take an active role in positively impacting policy that will allow sufferers to live a healthy and productive life. This is the most personalized form of advocacy and one that speaks deeply to others. 

Another way to observe Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month is to join a community of advocates, to speak up not only for yourself and a loved one, but for the entire community of JIA patients and their families. Collectively, this helps to make a big difference and a strong and well heard community. Further, utilize outlets such as the media that can increase public awareness and influence public interest in arthritis issues through letters to the editor, social media, interviews and other communication outlets. This is a good place to tell your personal story, or the story of others. Lastly, it is important to reach out to those who can influence high level legislative decisions. This includes local, state or federal level offices, enabling them to educate others and influence important legislative decisions. Influencing laws, regulations and rules that impact insurance coverage rules and regulations, for example, will have an overall impact on the well-being of Juvenile Arthritis patients.

As a JIA patient, you can call attention to the needs of those who struggle with this chronic condition. Telling your story allows you to call attention to yourself and the personal way you have been affected. Parents acting on behalf of their children have a very strong voice, since there is often no bigger advocate than a parent who wants to impact change for their child.

The good news is that with treatment, sometimes those with JIA can have periods of time when the disease goes into remission. With the correct treatments, it may also permanently go away with no other need for medication. For this reason, seeing a doctor early and understanding this disease helps to reduce the amount of joint damage and additional complications a child may experience throughout his or her lifetime. Education and awareness are key.

 

Good resources for learning more about Juvenile Arthritis are:

https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/juvenile-arthritis

https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/juvenile-arthritis

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