Your average American probably thinks of middle-aged adults or the elderly when they hear the word arthritis. The sad thing is you really can’t blame them.
Take this commercial from 2003 for example. We see a married couple swooning over one another while painting a room, as the narrator provides what could be viewed as awkward sexual innuendo in the background. Just like the General Hospital promo at the end of the video, this view on arthritis is old news!
In the U.S. alone, the CDC reports that 1 in every 250 children are diagnosed with some type of arthritis or rheumatic condition. Trends are similar in our northern neighbor Canada with 56% of people living with arthritis being under the age of 65.
So how do we get the word out on classes of arthritis like ankylosing spondylitis who greatly affect children? Don’t talk about it, walk about it!
That’s exactly what The Arthritis Society’s mission is with the Walk to Fight Arthritis. Participants engage in sponsored walks all throughout Canada to raise money and awareness for Arthritis research and support. Since the inception of the best foot forward organization, the walks have gathered over 8 million bucks.
Rather than solely focusing on the well-known types of arthritis, the events center around a wide-range of conditions including ankylosing spondylitis. The affects AS has on kids is often overlooked to the other major diagnoses of arthritis. Most children’s biggest worry is trying not to break something as they go out an play, not the reality of needing a walker like Julie Felx did.
Doctors diagnosed Felx with ankylosing spondylitis at 12 years old. She often had to use a cane or wheelchair to help her get around, a hard thing for any child to go through. Now 36, the courageous AS fighter raises awareness by doing exactly what held her back at a younger age, walking.
As the Montreal Gazette reports, Julie will be walking among 510 other participants in the 6th annual Walk to Fight Arthritis June 7th. It’s great to see Julie be able to raise awareness doing an activity that caused her a lot of trouble as a child.
For more information on similar walks in the U.S., check out dates and locations for the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk to Cure Arthritis events. We look forward to seeing what amazing stories surface from next year’s walk!