February 29, 2008 13:00 ET

The Arthritis Society: Investing in the Lives of Young Canadians

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 29, 2008) - Arthritis is not just a disease of the elderly. Arthritis is one of the most common chronic illnesses affecting children. Recent data suggest that as many as 4 per 1000 or 1 in 250 children and youth are dealing with arthritis on a daily basis. During the month of March, The Arthritis Society is highlighting opportunities for Canadians to make an investment in arthritis research that supports children, parents, grandparents, siblings and friends in their fight against JA by going to

Gail Nowlan, whose son Joshua was diagnosed with JA at 18 months old says, "Arthritis has affected our entire family. We want Joshua to live as normal a life as possible and enjoy the same physical experiences as other children his age but are careful not to push him too hard. With the medication he is taking, he usually doesn't show any pain or limitations so sometimes we forget they are still there. By encouraging our community to invest in research projects that will better the life of our child and others living in Canada, my son and our family can fight JA and hope that one day arthritis will be a thing of the past."

"As part of The Arthritis Society's mission to better the lives of children like Joshua who live with the challenges of arthritis throughout their daily activities, we have invested in research specifically dedicated to JA. One of The Arthritis Society's biggest investments into children living with JA is its 5 year, $250K National Research Initiative commitment to Dr. Rosenberg at the University of Saskatchewan and his team of researchers who are located across 8 different provinces," says Steven McNair, The President and CEO of The Arthritis Society.

Through support from a variety of partners, Dr. Rosenberg and his team were able to leverage The Arthritis Society's seed funding of $250K into $1.6M. This enables their team to study how the interaction of genes, environment and lifestyle early in a child's life, and their arthritis can help predict outcomes of JA, such as joint damage and diminished quality of life. Causes of JA are still unknown and any answers provided by this research will bring us closer to prevention, and ultimately a cure.

Other investments by The Arthritis Society to JA include:

- Dr. Rae Yeung: Research Investigator at University of Toronto and Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto

- Portions of the Arthritis Centre grants to University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University have been allocated to IWK Health Centre in Halifax and British Columbia Children's Hospital in Vancouver

- Education Forums in Ontario for 100 parents who are affected by JA

- An investment towards an interactive website "Teens Taking Charge" designed for teenagers living with arthritis.

- Dufferin Peel Separate School Board Project; hosting focus groups to educate teachers to help identify those in their class with arthritis and help them manage their arthritis and have a fulfilling educational experience.

- Providing physical therapy, occupational therapy and counseling to children and their families affected by JA in Ontario.

- Resource Binders are distributed in Alberta to families affected by JA.

- Half day sessions held in Edmonton and Calgary to educate parents whose children have JA

- The grade five 'Healthy Joints' program in Newfoundland educates 200 to 300 students to learn about arthritis prevention and management

- The 'Healthy Joints' backpack program in Newfoundland allows 50 to 100 children living with JA to receive ergonomic backpacks and related interest supplies

- 15 to 20 Schools in Newfoundland are invited to learn about arthritis as part of the 'Go Blue' Campaign

- 33 children in British Columbia living with JA attend a three day children's retreat

- Funding is dedicated to the University of British Columbia for JA research

- The Ross Petty Chair for JA in British Columbia

- Funding was committed for pediatric equipment last year in British Columbia

- 75 children living with JA in Nova Scotia go to camp for one week

- Educational forums for 50 parents in Nova Scotia whose children live with JA.

- Brochures for over 1000 families in Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick

- 45 children with arthritis in Quebec will attend camp with other children with JA

- Educational forums in Quebec for 300 people who are affected by JA

- A program in Quebec to create awareness in schools

- 75 children with JA living in Manitoba will attend a one week camp

- Parents in Manitoba will attend and be provided with resource materials at an educational forum

- Health care team staff for children with JA have the opportunity to attend ACR conference.

- In New Brunswick, The Learning About Arthritis program delivered to 250 students in several communities

- The Go Blue Campaign, raising awareness of juvenile arthritis, in corporate and academic sectors in various areas of New Brunswick

About The Arthritis Society

The Arthritis Society is Canada's principal health charity which empowers the nearly 4.5 million Canadians with arthritis to live their lives to the fullest by combating the daily limitation of arthritis. Over the last 60 years, The Arthritis Society has invested $160 million towards arthritis research to develop better treatments an ultimately find a cure.

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