A look back at JIA Awareness Week 2023

Blog by Nicola Goldstone

For those living with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), myths such as “children can’t get arthritis”, “you always grow out of it”, “you were fine yesterday, so you can’t feel that bad today”, can be upsetting to hear as well as frustrating to constantly correct. So, for this year’s JIA Awareness week, we aimed to become ‘Mythbusting superheroes’ and to put those misconceptions to bed, instead highlighting what it is really like to have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. But we couldn’t do it alone!

JIA Superheroes from around the UK, tweeted, re-tweeted, posted, and shared their own photos and videos to illustrate their experiences of JIA misunderstandings with our hashtag #BustingJIAMyths. For example, Megan Bennett, 17, from Bristol, posted a new video every day on her Instagram account, explaining how the condition can fluctuate, meaning good days and bad days… and some really bad days; how it is wrong to think that symptoms are only felt in the winter when actually they can affect you all year round; that joint pain is the only symptom when in fact there are many others including swollen joints, stiffness and restricted movement, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Fitness coach Isaac from Versus Limits Coaching, wanted to bust the myth that children can’t have arthritis- he was diagnosed at 11 and explained how exercise helped him to feel that he had taken back control of his body and improved both his mental and physical health. Whereas Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP for the Glasgow area, shared how her mother was told it was just ‘growing pains’ before she was finally diagnosed with JIA. You can watch both of their videos on our JIA-at-NRAS YouTube channel.

The #JIAMythBusterQuiz

Our #JIAMythBusterQuiz, a 7-question quiz designed to bust the most common JIA myths and to better explain the condition, was taken by over 500 people over the course of the week. It is still available on our JIA-at-NRAS website so if you haven’t already, go and check it out! In fact, encourage friends, family members, teachers, colleagues to take it! Raising awareness of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis will ensure that children get a correct diagnosis earlier; that they get the support and access to services that they need; reduce the feelings of isolation they may feel for lack of understanding and encourage funding of new research into better ways to diagnose and treat the condition.

To find out more about what we have coming at JIA-at-NRAS, follow our JIA social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. You can also keep checking our website for everything specific to JIA.