Children and young people living with arthritis in Scotland are set to display their artwork

A group of Scottish children and young people, aged 10 to 18, who live with arthritis and related conditions, will be unveiling their artwork this Saturday (20th October) at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which houses some of Europe’s greatest art collections.

Versus Arthritis, the charity created following the merger between Arthritis Care and Arthritis Research UK, provides a service in Scotland to give children and young people the support they need to come to terms with their diagnosis. The award-winning Young People and Families service offers a range of activities and art workshops through their Joint Creativity Project, along with opportunities for young people to meet and support their peers.

ARThritis under the microscope

This year, as part of the Joint Creativity Project, the young people were encouraged to explore their arthritis by creating microscopic art. The artworks depicted how cells and tissues behave in the body of a person with arthritis. The young participants found that creating artwork helped them to understand the science behind their condition and express how they were feeling.

The “ARThritis Under the Microscope” artwork was supported by BBC Children in Need and includes a video where the young people acted as cells and protein and demonstrated through drama, the impact that the condition and its’ various treatments has on their bodies.

There are over 1,200 children and young people currently living with arthritis in Scotland. The pain and fatigue caused by arthritis can have a massive impact on a young person’s life, preventing them attending school and socialising with friends. For some, their symptoms may be invisible, which can make it even more difficult for them to express how they are feeling.

Cerys Venters-Scott, who took part in this year’s project, will be attending the launch of the exhibition on Saturday to celebrate her artwork along with her peers. Cerys, 16, was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis last year and said: “I’ve enjoyed attending the workshops and making new friends. I sometimes find it hard to talk about my arthritis but it’s nice that I’ve found a group of friends who understand what I’m experiencing, who I can talk to about my treatment and how the side effects make me feel.”

Cerys, who competes as an international Para-Swimmer, adds: “The staff at Versus Arthritis have also helped to me come up with coping techniques for managing the pain – which has been really useful.”

Award Winners

The charity’s Young People and Families service achieved national recognition through receiving two accolades at the Health and Social Care Alliance Self-Management Awards, held at the Scottish Parliament earlier this month. Versus Arthritis’ Young People and Families Service was voted Self-Management Project of the Year 2018 for the Joint Creativity Project they deliver each year to 10 to 18-year olds. The service also won the Self-Management Partnership of the Year, for working with the Aberdeen Rheumatology Transition team to support teenagers and young adults who are transitioning from paediatric to adult services.

Gill Meens, service manager for Versus Arthritis’ Young People and Families service in Scotland, said:

“We know that young people living with arthritis can find it hard to talk about how they are feeling but we’re pleased that our workshops and events help people, like Cerys, to live better with their condition. I am proud of all the staff who help to deliver these inspiring projects and it is a huge honour to receive these awards.

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