Volunteers behind a peer-support network for children with arthritis say they are delighted their cause is to be backed by an MSP.
The Scottish Network for Arthritis in Children (SNAC) was set up by parents in 2008 to give advice to families of youngsters affected by the condition, traditionally associated with older people.
SNAC offers events and fundraisers to give parents access to treatment and help, working with the Scottish Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology Clinical Network (SPARN).
But now Central Scotland MSP Margaret McCulloch says she will push for greater awareness of how the condition affects the young.
She said: “Arthritis is commonly associated with ageing but children can, and do, get arthritis.
“There is more and more work being done to understand arthritis in children and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which can have a big impact on the health and quality of life of young people.
“Youngsters want to be active in their formative years but arthritis can be a barrier.
“I have heard some touching stories of young people unable to walk because of their arthritis who got the right support and now ride horses and kayak and explore the outdoors. We can’t deny young people opportunities they deserve because society doesn’t understand arthritis.
“I want to see greater awareness of arthritis in children, I want to see more research into arthritis in children and I want to make sure that young people and their parents get the support and advice they need to cope with this condition.”
Tracy Rendall, secretary of SNAC said: “It is enormously important for us to get this kind of support.
“For 14 MSPs to come along to one of our functions is overwhelming.
“Getting the word out to parents that we are here is really important.
“One of the biggest things is to stop parents feeling isolated and alone when their child is first diagnosed.”
To find out more about the Scottish Network for Arthritis in Children (SNAC) , visit the group’s website at www.snac.uk.com.