March 01, 2005 07:00 ET


The Arthritis Society announces March as Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 1, 2005) - In Ontario, the month of March is devoted to children living with juvenile arthritis (JA). An estimated one in every thousand Canadian children under the age of 16 are affected by juvenile arthritis, making it one of the most common chronic childhood diseases.

Due to the nature of the disease JA frequently goes undetected. Warning signs may include inflammation of the joints, which causes stiffness in the morning or trouble using an arm or leg. JA can also cause inflammation in the eyes called "chronic uveitis", and irregular growth problems. Speedy diagnosis is vital to the fight against the disease and if a child shows signs of these symptoms they are encouraged to see a doctor immediately.

Children who have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis often have severe pain in their joints for the rest of their lives. "Imagine crawling to the breakfast table because you're too stiff to walk-or crying because you're in pain after playing two innings of a baseball game," says 13-year-old Devin, who was diagnosed with the disease when she was nearly three years old and has been living the pain and stiffness of JA ever since.

In September The Arthritis Society launched the educational book, I am Brave: Children Living with Arthritis. The book was written and illustrated by children who have juvenile arthritis-children like Devin. It allows others to get a glimpse of how JA affects kids emotionally and physically on a day-to-day basis and can also be used as an educational tool for parents trying to understand their child's disease. The Arthritis Society hopes the book will provide support for kids living with JA and ultimately create more awareness about JA and the impact it can have on a child's life. I am Brave is available across Canada by contacting the Arthritis Information Line at 1.800.321.1433. The Arthritis Society wants to continue to provide hope to those children living with JA. A number of community chapters across Ontario are joining together to raise funds and awareness during Juvenile Arthritis Awareness month.

The Kitchener region is getting out their green thumbs in preparation for spring. They support kids with juvenile arthritis by Growing a cure for arthritis. During the week of March 17-24, spring gardens of hope are being sold to raise money to help support the programs of The Arthritis Society. Each garden is $4, which includes a 4" pot of miniature daffodils, crocus and grape muscari bulbs. For more information please contact Wendi Yates at The Arthritis Society-Kitchener 519.743.2820

In Sudbury and the surrounding areas they are raising awareness of JA with everyone's favourite food, especially kids: dessert! On March 4 at the Radisson Hotel join The Arthritis Society's More than just Desserts evening of gourmet desserts, hors d'oeuvres, wine tasting and auctions. For more information please contact Mary Lou Hassak at The Arthritis Society-Sudbury 705.673.4641

The eastern part of Ontario soars high with bluebirds and gives hope to kids living with JA. Local businesses such as the Canadian Tire Catarqui in Kingston are participating in the FREEDOM from Pain campaign. Buy a bluebird for $1 and help support The Arthritis Society. For more information, please contact Sue Walker at The Arthritis Society-Ottawa 613.723.1083

The Halton-Peel-Hamilton region is raising awareness of JA by combining one great love with another: dessert and fashion. It just doesn't get any better than that! On March 1 at the Mississauga Grand Banquet and Convention Centre join The Arthritis Society's More than just Desserts for an evening of gourmet desserts, hors d'oeuvres, auctions and a fashion show. For more information please contact Lorna Catrabone at The Arthritis Society- Halton-Peel-Hamilton 905. 455.6273

In Thunder Bay a number of local businesses are getting casual for kids with JA by holding Dress Down Days. By making a donation to arthritis programs, participates can wear casual clothes to work. 14 local businesses are Dressing Down to support kids with JA during Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. For more information please contact Dawn Larsen at The Arthritis Society-Thunder Bay 807.345.9535

In the St. Catharine's/ Niagara region a number of local businesses are getting out their blue jeans for Dress Down Days to support kids with JA. Dress Down Days will run from March 6-11 where participates can make a donation to arthritis programs and are encouraged to wear casual clothing to work. In Port Colborne, help us Strike Out Arthritis by joining The Arthritis Society for a fun-filled bowling night on March 6 at Agro Midtown Bowling Lanes. The money raised will go towards arthritis research in the hope of sparing other children the pain of JA. For more information please contact Joyce McIntosh at The Arthritis Society-St. Catharine's 905.646.7284

In the Toronto area, help us Strike out Arthritis by joining The Arthritis Society and friends at a Cosmic Bowling event on March 19. Bring your bowling ball to Thorncliffe Bowlerama where there will be prizes, music, giveaways and more to help support kids living with the constant pain of juvenile arthritis. For more information, please contact Sue Munro Curtis-Toronto 416.979.7228 ext. 380

Children affected by JA share common symptoms; pains in their joints, muscles and bones. They, like all children, share hope for the future. Although there is no cure for juvenile arthritis at this time, there are ways to manage the disease. Help us, Help them, Escape the Pain.

The Arthritis Society is Canada's principal not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing and promoting arthritis education, community support and research- based solutions. Since its inception in 1948, The Society has funded arthritis research to develop better treatments for arthritis and ultimately, to find a cure. In Ontario alone, 1.6 million people are currently living with arthritis, making it the most common chronic condition in the province.

Juvenile Arthritis Fast Facts

· Juvenile Arthritis (JA) affects boys and girls. JA can be defined as continuous inflammation (pain, stiffness and swelling) of one or more joints lasting six weeks for which no other cause can be found.
· JA stops the body's immune system from working properly; the immune system fails to recognize healthy body tissues and attacks it.
· JA is different from arthritis in adults; the unique features associated with JA are: Irregular growth problems that cause discomfort, inflammation of the eye called "chronic uveitis" causing reduced vision, painful flares and remission that can come and go without warning.
· Children with arthritis can struggle to keep up with the demands of school due to physical pain, swelling and stiffness.
· Today, there is no cure for JA but there is effective therapy available to help parents and children manage the disease.
· In some cases JA resolves by adulthood; in others, its affects are lifelong, requiring ongoing medical treatment.

/For further information: / IN: HEALTH

Contact Information

  • Deirdre Lall, Manager Communications, The Arthritis Society
    Primary Phone: 416-979-7228 ext. 351
    Secondary Phone: 416-460-8017
    Toll-Free: 800-321-1433