Did you know that Kids Get Arthritis Too? Help us raise awareness and funds to offer JIA families ongoing support.
Bay of Plenty
When I was 11 years old, I had a sore knee for around a week. I was in my last week of Primary school when my Mum picked me up one day and noticed my right knee was swollen more than twice its normal size. After a couple of months of tests and hospital admissions, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).
Before long, the arthritis spread to many of my other joints and I was diagnosed with three other conditions that are common alongside JIA.
Over the past 5 years I have had numerous hospital stays, trialled so many medications I couldn't actually list them, been unable to walk for weeks at a time and there have been many more changes to mine and my families lives as we have tried to adjust to living with Arthritis.
My Mum and Dad and my little brother have been an incredible support along with extended family and friends. (Special mention to my Grandma). I have an identical twin sister named Alicia. Alicia does not have arthritis but her life has certainly been affected by this disease. Alicia lost a part of me when I did 5 years ago. I was no longer able to play at the park, go bike riding and even go to school. A big part of me doing this fundraiser is to raise awareness about the fact that KIDS get Arthritis too and it affects their entire family.
There have been two organisations who have been incredibly supportive for me and my family. Arthritis NZ and Kids With Arthritis NZ have allowed me to feel 'normal' and like a 'kid' throughout my painful journey. The children and teen camps have allowed me to meet others like myself and this has boosted my confidence. My younger cousin Tom also has JIA and it has been amazing having time with him at these events too. These organisations have not only included me in their charities but also my family. They have offered a world of support to us and I feel so passionate about it that I am shaving off 16 years worth of hair! To make it even more special - my twin Alicia is shaving her head with me to show her support to me and all the other families out there dealing with childhood Arthritis. Our Big Shave is on Saturday the 9th of October 2021 and this will be a public event which you are welcome to join us for.
My hopes and dreams for the future are slightly different now to what they were when I was younger. However, these two organisations have encouraged me to be the absolute best I can be. I want to support them to do this for other children around New Zealand who battle this painful disease.
I am a member of both these charities who has benefited from their support. My twin sister and myself are shaving our heads on 09/10/2021 to raise awareness for Childhood Arthritis in NZ.
Kids With Arthritis New Zealand will use funds to support families in Local and National events. Arthritis New Zealand will be using the funds to work on their Teen Campaign -supporting teenagers with Arthritis in NZ.
Live on RNZ with Jesse Mulligan 16 October 2021
I can not believe the response we have had from my interview on RNZ today, thank you for the generous words and donations.