Summer camps offer every child a chance to make friends, have fun and enjoy the great outdoors. The Arthritis Society hosts camps across the country for children with arthritis that allow them to get the full camp experience without encountering barriers. Most importantly, campers see their experience as an opportunity and reminder to enjoy life regardless of their condition.
Meet three amazing kids with arthritis who carry the camp spirit throughout their everyday lives – and who have some important lessons for people with arthritis of all ages.
Maggie was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at age 6. Now 18, Maggie has coped with pain in nearly every joint, medication changes and flare ups – not to mention missing gym class and social opportunities. Maggie made a leap of faith in high school, finding an emotional outlet through drama club. This experience helped her open up, and she discovered that openly communicating with the people in her life, from friends and family to health care professionals, has made her understand that arthritis is a part of her life instead of something that holds her back. If you’re feeling alone or left out, find your outlet and express yourself!
Serena was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at just 6 months old – in fact, her twin sister Savannah has arthritis too! Now 9 years old, Serena is driven by a can-do attitude: “Always be true to yourself,” she says, “just because you have arthritis doesn’t mean it has to keep you from doing what you want to do.” Celebrate your achievements every day because you can succeed!
Josie’s juvenile polyarticular rheumatoid idiopathic arthritis was diagnosed at age 4, and the initial experience of living with the disease left her feeling isolated. At 13, Josie has built friendships with other kids living with arthritis. She has discovered that being a resource for others with arthritis or those struggling with pain allows her to look past her own challenges and put her knowledge and experience to good use. “Even though we have pain, it doesn’t mean we aren’t as strong or as smart as someone else”, she says. Pass on your story, and you might learn more about how to manage your own arthritis while helping someone else!
Through the Arthritis Society camps, kids with arthritis can come together and develop their confidence and self-esteem while discovering their unique strengths. Maggie, Serena and Josie have all overcome their pain to enjoy life, especially at camp where they can develop friendships and unlock their potential. But you don’t need to go to camp to live these lessons - people with arthritis of all ages can easily bring the same outlook to their everyday lives.
Learn more about the camps offered by the Arthritis Society here.