July 12, 2017 7:58 pm

First-of-its-kind camp in Alberta helps children with arthritis be kids

WATCH: Living with arthritis can be isolating for young people, but this week a group of kids are getting the chance to spend time with others with the illness, thanks to a special new camp. Heather Yourex-West explains.

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Kids with juvenile arthritis are getting a chance to experience summer camp thanks to a new, week-long, medically supervised camp hosted by the Arthritis Society.

“We hear all the time that kids feel like they have nobody else that understands them,” said Kiran Dhiman, a volunteer with The Arthritis Society Alberta.

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“They’ve never met somebody else who has arthritis in their age group so having this to build connections and build friendships — it’s really, really key.”

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Hosted in co-operation with Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta, the arthritis camp is being held at Camp Kindle west of Water Valley.

During the week, 38 campers aged eight to 17 are taking part in a variety of medically supervised activities including archery, swimming, yoga and a ropes course.

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“It’s amazing,” said Courtney Cochrane, an eight-year-old camper from Edmonton.

“It makes me feel like I don’t have arthritis because I’m not the only one.”

According to the Arthritis Society, as many as 24,000 Canadian children aged 18 and under live with a form of the disease.

“Basically, the auto-immune system attacks the joints and causes them to be inflamed,” said Julia Brooks, an Alberta Children’s Hospital physiotherapist who is also volunteering at the camp.

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“It’s not like in older people — when we think of our grandparents that have a bad knee and their joints wear out. These kids, their immune system attacks their joints.”

This year’s camp was open to kids from all over Alberta and Saskatchewan.  The Arthritis Society is hopeful the camp will be held annually.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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