Camp brings together kids who have juvenile arthritis - WSMV Channel 4

Camp brings together kids who have juvenile arthritis

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Arthritis can be a debilitating condition for older folks, but imagine dealing with it as a kid. It's a big problem for some children and teens, but there is a fun camp where they can kick back and have fun.

Juvenile arthritis affects nearly 300,000 people across the country, and this week, many of those kids from Tennessee are coming together for a very special camp.

Twelve-year-old camper Emma Bryant says the week is packed with fun things to do, such as Zumba class.

"We do lots of activities, and we're never really hungry, because we always get snacks and food. It's a really, really good experience," she said.

Emma and her fellow campers have juvenile arthritis, meaning they likely experience stiffness, pain or swelling around or in their joints.

"I've been dealing with it for a really long time now, so you have to cope with it," Emma said.

That also means regular visits to the doctor's office.

Vanderbilt nurse practitioner Brittany Nelson works with some of these children each month, and says the week they spend at camp makes a huge difference.

"It gives them a great social network to meet other kids who have same condition, and deal with all the same issues with school and friends and things like that," Nelson said.

Emma met her friend Hadley Schelton at camp last year. For these young people, it's not just about water sports and dancing. It's also about making friendships that last well beyond camp.

"We get to talk about what similarities we have in medicine. We feel like we aren't different any more, so it feels better," Hadley said.

"We talk a lot, and we can really help one another out because we know what it's like," Emma said.

Donations made sure the campers could spend the week together without having to pay a dime. For more information on how you can help, visit: http://www.arthritis.org/tennessee/tn-juvenile-arthritis/camp-acheaway/

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