On September 23, 2017, our Fresno County, California Arthritis Support Network (ASN) participated in the Clovis Night Out community event hosted by the Clovis Police Department. This was the 8th Annual Clovis Night Out event, and our group’s 2nd year participating. The purpose of this event is to bring together the community so various agencies, programs, and services could provide information and resources to the public. Over 100 vendors and 15 food trucks packed the event. In addition to agencies and organizations, boutique vendors selling unique arts, crafts, and ceramic products were also present, creating a family friendly event held at a local park. The event concludes at sunset with a firework show.
The Fresno County ASN had a lot of fun at our informational booth, especially with cooler weather than last year. Our main goal for participating at the event was to provide outreach to the community and promote awareness about arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. At the same time, we informed community members about our group and the support, education, and fun social activities that we provide for adults who live with varies types of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Besides displaying rack cards, business cards, and sign-up sheets for those who would like to be on our mailing list and be notified about upcoming events, we also had fliers announcing our October 2017 meeting.
Many people stopped by our booth and showed an interest in joining our future meetings. Several people came up to us just to talk and shared their personal challenges as caregivers of loved ones living with painful and debilitating arthritis. This gave us an opportunity to let these caregivers know that the support group is for them too, and not just for individuals with arthritis or rheumatic diseases. It was heartwarming to understand what these caregivers do for their loved ones on a daily basis. We learned that once we share our own challenges living with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, it opens up communication for others to share their stories. An older gentleman who came up to us and started talking about having arthritis in his fingers and hands, but he hasn’t been diagnosed yet. He shared his story about changing his diet, exercising more, and avoiding activities that triggered pain. A simple encounter at the booth turned into a one-on-one support with this gentleman and he asked about resources available through the Arthritis Foundation. Younger individuals also walked by our booth, smiled, and said that their grandparents have arthritis. One family stands out in my mind: As they walked by our booth their young daughter said, “Mommy, doesn’t grandma have arthritis?” The child’s question prompted me to provide education to the family and I began telling them that arthritis not only affects adults, but children can also have Juvenile Arthritis. The mom looked at me with a puzzled expression and said, “Really, kids get arthritis too?” I shared with the family about my own diagnosis when I was 3 years old. They thanked us for the information and learned something new!
Written by: Carolyn Kosanouvong-Walker, ASN Leader
Carolyn resides in California and is the Arthritis Support Network leader in Fresno County. She was diagnosed with juvenile-onset rheumatoid arthritis at 3 years old. Living with a rheumatic condition for over 40 years has been a physical and emotional challenge due to severe joint deformities and chronic pain. Carolyn enjoys cooking just like her mom! She has a personal Facebook blog titled, “Happiness is in the Kitchen” where she shares memories of food, fun, and family.