by Debbie Wilson, NRAS
I am the new Young Persons Project Co-Ordinator at NRAS. I come to this role with a very personal experience of JIA. I have had JIA nearly all my life and a few years ago my daughter was diagnosed with it too. Thankfully, due to medical advances, the disease can be easier to manage. Unfortunately, some things have not changed: mainly the lack of understanding and awareness of JIA. There is still the stigma of having JIA and I was quite shocked that my daughter got the same comments I used to get, such as: “my granny has that”; “that’s an old person’s disease”; “you are too young to get arthritis.”
During the first lockdown I was shielding, and it really made me think about what I wanted to do in my life. I knew I wanted to make a difference to young people’s lives and make sure they do not have to go through what I did. I was over the moon when I was offered the role at NRAS, a charity very close to my heart. JIA will not define me, but we have to learn how to manage it and deal with the ups and downs that this condition brings. There still needs to be more awareness and understanding about this disease and support for those living with it, and now I’m working for NRAS I really hope I can do this.