Kids With Arthritis New Zealand is the NZ support group for children with arthritis and their families. It is a non-profit voluntary organisation which is under the umbrella of Arthritis New Zealand. It also seeks to educate these children, their families, and to raise awareness of childhood arthritis in the community with issues like, ‘What is Arthritis’, and ‘Even Kids Get Arthritis’. It looks for ways to provide support and information for these children and their families.
Kids With Arthritis New Zealand (KWANZ) is the national support network for children with arthritis and their families. We are a not-for-profit volunteer organisation that is under the umbrella of Arthritis New Zealand, but we need to raise money to fund our various fun and educational activities, and to provide financial support for our children.
Our aims are to provide support and relevant educational, and social service information to every child in New Zealand with arthritis, to raise awareness and understanding in the community that “even kids get arthritis”, to provide activities such as camps seminars social activities and peer support for families, and to provide advocacy and fundraising support to Arthritis New Zealand.
In New Zealand there are about one in a thousand children who have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). JIA affects joints, causing pain and swelling, and in some children it also affects other vital organs such as the heart, liver and eyes. With appropriate management which includes early recognition and treatment, and access to newer ‘biologic drugs’ for the small number of children with more severe illness, most children with JIA will grow up without lasting effects of their arthritis. There are more than 140 forms of arthritis which makes it the most common cause of disability in New Zealand.
Children with arthritis suffer from chronic pain, fevers and rashes, fatigue and lack of mobility. Some children with JIA have growth problems, and some with severe disease require joint replacement surgery.
Children with arthritis require regular appointments with doctors and hospital specialists, regular physiotherapy, the use of splints, and regular oral medications injections and infusions just to keep their arthritis under control. As a result they all have time off school, can suffer from depression and low self-esteem, can feel isolated from their peers, and have to deal with a range of psychological issues related to living with a chronic illness.
Our vision is to provide sufficient funding for running annual camps for all of our children and their families so that the invaluable benefits gained from seminars and workshops, social interaction, peer support, teamwork and leadership opportunities, and the building of confidence through achievement of physical and mental challenges can be realised.
In addition our vision includes the provision of financial support to individual children for their remedial education requirements, scholarships for their tertiary education, and financial assistance for equipment and activities that enhance their quality of life.
In order to accomplish these visions we need support from the community in the form of corporate sponsorships, individual regular and one-off donations, provision of equipment and support, and sponsorship for specific activities.
Children with arthritis are courageous, inspirational and have a strong determination to not let this disease control their lives. The life of a child with arthritis is a special journey, and Kids With Arthritis New Zealand ensures that children and their families find positive benefits by linking with others and sharing experiences and ways of dealing with the same day to day problems.