Saturday, February 27, 2016

The One Where She Volunteers...

Growing up with JRA was pretty difficult. While I spent quite a bit of it in remission (thankfully!) I always knew I was different because of the things I wasn't able to do that other kids could. I think a lot of that had to do with the fear of somehow making the JRA come out of remission, so we all just tiptoed quietly around the really big elephant that followed me from room to room.

The Arthritis Foundation was around when I was a kid but they didn't have any kids programs. The one time I remember going to a support group with my mom I was the youngest in the group by about 60 years. We weren't going to find the kind of support that I needed there and I grew up pretty resentful because there just wasn't anywhere I could get a "me too".

I look at the "kids" that are in their 30's (and younger) now that had the benefit of JA Conference, camps and the option of staying in touch with the people that they met at camp and they seem to be coping a lot better than I did at their age (surprisingly, in my 30's is when I became attached to a usenet group I loved and I was finally able to get my first "me too" moment). The camps and Conference came about when two moms of children with JIA noticed that there wasn't any way for kids to meet and chat with one another so they got with the AF and did the work and now the children's program at the Foundation is huge. It offers camps throughout the summer and 2 conferences, one on the east and one on the west side of country. Am I thrilled for so many that get to attend? Yes, but (and you knew it was coming) I feel gypped that I was in my 20's when it happened.

I finally realized that I had 2 choices, I could go on being unhappy that I didn't have the ability to attend when I was a kid, or I could be a Disney Princess and let it go. Seeing as how I had a long history of feeling unhappy, I decided to let it go...but an interesting thing happened instead of walking away from my loss I decided to get involved.

Awhile back in a post on Arthritic Critic I wrote that we should all get involved with the foundations that were helping our type of disease get noticed. A lot of people listened to me (shocker) but I didn't listen to me (and yes, I kick myself for not taking my own advice I could have stopped this resentment a long time ago).

I went to the Arthritis Foundation website and signed up to be an Ambassador. I've already been sending letters to my local government about the bills that The Foundation are working on getting passed to better my life so being an Ambassador made sense. The part that I'm most excited about, I'm going to volunteer with JIA kids. I'm sure that will consist of working sign in or some other job like that but just being able to see things be different for kids and for me to see what is available I think will go a long way towards healing that part of me that feels gypped. I'm really quite excited about it because I'm good with kids and if both sides can get something out of it, it's a win.

I didn't think I would ever find a way to get past what I had missed but I really think doing something tangible (unlike sitting behind a computer screen) will help me feel like I'm making a difference, not just online but also out in the real world too.

Look at me all official....Arthritis Ambassador!