Arthritis Foundation, Great West Region, Inc. Programs
The AF is an excellent source of information on arthritis and related rheumatic diseases, including diagnosis, treatments and medications. This information can be found on the AF website. Our toll-free Arthritis Helpline is run by special trained volunteers who put together personalized packets of information based on the caller's particular interests. All these resources are free to the public.
KAT (Kids And Teens) Program
There are 6,100 children in WA who have juvenile arthritis (JA). The KAT Program provides educational and social activities for children with JA, and their families. Our KAT Program is for the whole family because we recognize that when a child has a chronic illness, the entire family is affected. Activities range from afternoon events to summer weekend camps. All KAT Program activities are free. There is no cure for arthritis, but our KAT Program gives families hope that they can cope with this painful disease until there is a cure.
Life Improvement Series
Taught by nationally certified instructors, the AF’s Life Improvement Series empower people with arthritis through exercise programs that are proven to increase mobility, reduce pain and stiffness, and cut down on physician visits. They are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control as evidence-based, and research-proven for effectiveness and safety. They include the AF Aquatic Program, AF Exercise Program, AF Tai Chi and Walk with Ease (a community-based, group walking program).
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
KAT-FISH Family Camp (Kids And Teens’ Families Investing Support and Hope) is a free weekend retreat that gives children with juvenile arthritis (JA) , and their families, the opportunity to meet other families, learn about arthritis, and have fun in a supportive setting. Camp is an integral part of our outreach to children with JA and other rheumatic diseases and is the only camp in WA to serve these children.
The success of camp is apparent in the rising number of participants: camp started in 2004 with 19 children with arthritis, and their families, and in 2013 we hosted 70 families. Parents volunteer for the camp planning committee, and teens with arthritis or have a sibling with arthritis who attended camp often return as staff in training or junior counselors. As a result of the networking opportunities at camp, parents have initiated informal local support and social groups.
Because KAT-FISH Family Camp is free to attend, we are constantly in need of funding. Costs associated with treating JA can be staggering and a constant source of stress. KAT-FISH Camp may be the only vacation for many of these families. Doctor appointments, medicines and physical therapy all take precedent as parents endeavor to keep lasting physical damage at a minimum and ease the pain that comes with arthritis. Funding is primarily used for the costs associated with room and board for the weekend at a camp facility.