Families, MPs and fundraisers from all over the UK came together at the House of Commons to celebrate those who have raised funds and awareness of JIA (Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis) for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS).
Each family that attended invited their local MP to come along to meet them, have a photograph, and talk about support they can offer in their local constituency. Many of the attendees had raised money for JIA-at-NRAS’ national awareness day on 8th June - #WearPurpleForJIA.
Robert joined the Cheedy family to celebrate the fundraising and awareness-raising events that the family have been involved in. Rhys, aged 14, has JIA and got his rugby team involved in fundraising for the charity.
Robert said, "It was great to meet the Cheedys and learn about the great work Rhys has been doing to fundraise and raise awareness of JIA."
Matthew Bezzant, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for JIA-at-NRAS commented: “It was a great afternoon spent with families and their local MPs. It’s really important to children with JIA to have the support in their local communities – that is paramount to the continued understanding of their condition and needs. Each constituency in the country has between 15-20 children and young people living with JIA, so that’s a fair amount of families, schools, teachers and communities experiencing and working with the condition.”
“Arthritis is still commonly associated as an older person’s disease, which means there are already preconceptions and hurdles to overcome as a young child or parent of a child with the condition. This event was able to celebrate and reward the efforts of these children,” Matthew concludes.
JIA is an auto-immune disease, which causes inflammation in the joints, although it can also affect the eyes and other organs. There are approximately 12,000 children in the UK with JIA, which represents 1 in every 1,000 children under the age of 16, and there are approximately 1,200 new cases of JIA diagnosed each year in the UK.