WBZ Cares: Juvenile Arthritis

The Arthritis Foundation of Massachusetts (Photo Credit: The Arthritis Foundation of Massachusetts/Facebook)

The Arthritis Foundation of Massachusetts (Photo Credit: The Arthritis Foundation of Massachusetts/Facebook)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling The Arthritis Foundation of Massachusetts whose mission is to improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases.

Thousands of kids in Massachusetts are living with juvenile arthritis. It’s a diagnosis that can turn life upside-down for those children and their families. But Senior Development Director Andrea Savisky says the Arthritis Foundation has a number of programs in place to help ease the burden.

“We have Parent Night so parents can get together and talk about what’s going on with their kids. It gives them somebody to talk to that knows what they’re going through. And we have family days where the parents get together, but with their children so that their children can interact with children who have arthritis. Siblings can actually meet each other and talk about what is happening in their family. We have teen days. There’s a lot of challenges with teenagers, never mind children that have to manage a chronic illness,” Savisky said.

Savisky and President Erica D’Agostino are both raving about the foundation’s J.A. Summer Camps, held nationwide. The camps are among the most popular programs for kids and the Foundation pays the way for those children.

“We have four of them in the North East. We provide camperships to all who apply. We’ve been really fortunate. We do a great job. We work really hard with fundraising so that we can provide camperships,” D’Agostino commented.

Savisky went on to say, “They’re staffed with medical professionals because these kids, the majority of them, need injections or infusions almost every day. But these kids can participate in all kids of kinds of activities without feeling different. They’re all the same there.”

Melissa Newell of Woburn and her family have been dealing first hand with juvenile arthritis. Her seven-year-old son, Bradley, was diagnosed with a form of Rheumatoid Arthritis when he was five. The disease is now under control through medications. Newell says the Arthritis Foundation has been invaluable for her family.

“Being hooked up with the Arthritis Foundation gave us a purpose. It helped bring awareness to our families and all of our colleagues so then we don’t feel so alone dealing with this all. And so my involvement with them has been really important. And then they host juvenile arthritis events, so he sees other kids with it, because last year he started feeling a little weird about telling people about it and so I think that has helped him be proud of coping with it and what he has gone through,” Newell said. 

I asked Bradley [Newell] how he feels about the Arthritis Foundation and he said, “It’s cool.”

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Kim Tunnicliffe Reports

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