Welcome to the Arthritis Agenda, an advocacy newsletter of the Arthritis Foundation.
Advocacy Spotlight -- Andrea Blamble, 18, New Albany, Ohio
Andrea was recently nominated for a Jefferson Award – a national award established by the American Institute for Public Service in 1972 to encourage and honor individuals for their contributions and achievements through public and community service.
My name is Andrea Blamble. I am a Senior at New Albany High School in New Albany, Ohio. I was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid when I was 13. I went from being on several school
sports teams to not being able to tie my own shoes or button my own buttons on my shirts and pants. I have been one of the lucky ones who have found medications that help me get through my days. That is not the case with everyone and if I do not take my medication, I can tell within a day.
A couple of years ago I went in search of answers to questions that I had about my disease. I found the Central Ohio Arthritis Foundation. They have helped me with so many different areas of my life. They are an endless supply of literature, which comes in handy when you need to educate someone that “Kids Get Arthritis Too!” They have a lending library that is very educational. And, I can not leave out, Arthritis Camp. I went to camp for the first time when I was 16. I met so many kids from around Ohio who have this terrible disease. This is the one time of the year that they get to be with other kids just like them and just have fun and forget about needles.
Andrea visited Ohio Senator Goldman.
Another area of the Arthritis Foundation that I enjoy is being an Advocate for other kids with Arthritis. For the past 3 years I have joined forces with the Arthritis Foundation, Families and my Rheumatologist from Children’s Hospital to raise awareness of kids with Arthritis. Each March we spend one day at the statehouse meeting with our Senators and Representatives sharing our stories. We also have other meetings throughout the year. I have written many letters to our local representatives to ask for their support with the
Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act. So far everyone that we have visited in the past has co-signed the bill.
My main focus has always been helping the other kids in Ohio who have this disease and trying to raise awareness. The Arthritis Foundation has helped me reach many of my goals. I have started a support group/club for kids called “J.A.C.K.S.” (Juvenile Arthritis Club for Kids) We meet once per month and this allows kids to just be kids and forget about their disease. Many of the J.A.C.K.S. members are also getting involved in becoming Advocates. Several of the J.A.C.K.S. members are planning on traveling to the 2007 JA Conference in Hershey, PA. I went to the AJAO Conference in 2005 which was held in Providence, RI. I would love to come back and become an adult volunteer and give back to other kids from around the United States. I have dedicated 100’s of hours to the Arthritis Foundation over the past few years. Recently I was nominated for “The
Jefferson Award.” It was an honor to be nominated. The Jefferson Awards are awarded to community members making a difference in their neighborhoods. I was fortunate enough to have been selected as one of the top 5 winners for Central Ohio. I was also named the top winner out of the 5. I will fly to Washington, DC in June to compete nationally for one of 5 “Onassis Awards” named for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Andrea Blamble at Arthritis Walk
I believe that one person can make a difference in our communities. For this reason I will continue my advocacy efforts raising awareness one person at a time. If we all did this, I wouldn’t have to hear “Arthritis, you don’t have
arthritis, only old people get that.”