A 15-year-old St Mary's student has been recognised by the medical profession for developing a teacher's guide to juvenile arthritis.
The guide is the result of a nine-month personal project the school encourages Year 10 students to do.
Each student gets to choose the topic and Sophia chose juvenile arthritis because of the challenges she has faced since starting school as an infant with the condition.
The biggest challenge is the pain she has experienced, which often goes unnoticed by others.
"It is an invisible condition," Sophia said.
"You can't always see when people are in pain, which is one of the biggest struggles for a lot of people with the condition.
"It is an auto-immune condition which is the inflammation of joints in young people, especially under the age of 16. There are seven different forms of juvenile arthritis I cover in the resource."
Sophia wants to help teachers, parents and students with a helpful guide that benefits everyone.
"I started the project at the beginning of the year in February," she said.
"I created a digital book essentially as a guide for high teachers on juvenile arthritis and the implications of that for students in their day-to-day lives.
"I have had juvenile arthritis from when I was a toddler. I have experienced the difference in primary school and high school.
"I feel I have been very well supported. However I have been on camps with other teenagers with juvenile arthritis and found that is not always a common thing. So I really wanted to use my passion for the subject to help other people and create something that would be really worthwhile."
Sophia said with her guide being published on Paediatric Rheumatology network website anyone in NSW can access it under the patient and family story section.
"We have had a really positive reaction. It has been shared on the St Mary's website and I have had a lot of positive feedback from that as well with people congratulating me.
"It has been put up on Facebook and many parents have been messaging my parents and saying "thank you for this" and "we will also be using it".
"Some are taking sections of it and using it for primary school as well.
"We have contacted the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation of Australia and the resource might even reach further."
Sophia said she would like to do more advocacy for juvenile arthritis and after completing Year 12 plans to study for a career in child and adolescent psychology.
She said she was grateful for all the assistance she has received at school from people like personal project coordinator Christine Rutherford and tutor group teacher Lisa Lockett as well as other teenagers with juvenile arthritis.
"I reached out to a number of them while conducting my primary research," she said.
"Their support and assistance in answering my questions and encouragement was really amazing."
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