A new comic book from The Arthritis Society aims to teach children about understanding juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and living with the disease. “MediKidz Explain JIA” was originally developed by rheumatologists in the United Kingdom, with a goal of teaching kids about their bodies and how chronic illness affects it.
Produced with the generous support of AbbVie, the comic has been reviewed and adapted for a Canadian audience by a panel of pediatric rheumatologists, incorporating input from members of The Arthritis Society’s Childhood Arthritis Advisory Council. The Arthritis Society is making the book available as part of Arthritis Awareness Month this September – just in time for back to school.
The comic book is geared towards the more than 24,000 young Canadians living with arthritis. Despite being widely perceived as an adult disease, arthritis is one of the more common disorders resulting in chronic disability in children and teens.
But how does a kid try to understand their diagnosis when most reading materials are designed for parents and doctors? There’s a real need for kid-friendly content to help young people understand and come to terms with their illness. Enter the MediKidz: five superheroes who take a girl named Eleanor on a journey through her own body to explain why her joints hurt, and what she can expect from treatment. By developing the information in a way children can understand and relate to, it encourages kids to take an active role in their diagnosis and treatment.
“As someone who has been trying to educate myself about my disease, I’m glad to see a tool like this coming out,” said Jared Hauck, an 18-year-old high school volleyball captain who also suffers from JIA. “I wish this comic had been around when I was first diagnosed! I’m sure it will help other kids with JIA.”
The book equips youth with accurate information they can use to explain their disease to other kids and adults alike, which is a necessary factor when dealing with any childhood illness. It’s important to be able to engage JIA suffers with vital information about their bodies, while providing them the ability to explain it to others.
The comic is now available online and print copies will be distributed at various Arthritis Society events across the country, starting this month. For more information, visit www.arhtritis.ca/childhood