Western Bay residents are being asked to support the thousands of locals living with arthritis in the Arthritis New Zealand annual appeal.
The appeal, launched today, will include a street appeal on Friday before the appeal week ends on Monday, October 1.
In the Bay of Plenty Region, there are about 42,900 people living with one of the more than 140 different forms of arthritis.
Arthritis New Zealand chief executive Sandra Kirby said arthritis was New Zealand's leading cause of disability, with osteoarthritis as the most common form.
"Osteoarthritis is the result of a mechanical breakdown in the joints. In a healthy joint, cartilage provides a smooth surface between the bones that allows for easy movement. When a joint develops osteoarthritis, the cartilage gets thin and rough, and, in some cases, completely breaks down, leaving the bones unprotected,'' she said.
The next most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
She said there were 17,940 people receiving sickness or invalids benefits as a result of musculo-skeletal conditions, the bulk of which will be arthritis.
"The perception that arthritis is an older person's condition is wrong,'' she said.
"In fact, arthritis can occur to any one at any age, and there are more than 1,000 children in New Zealand living with the condition.''
Arthritis New Zealand is a national organisation whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of people who are affected by arthritis.
Arthritis New Zealand's street collectors will be in bright orange vests carrying gerberas on Friday.
Phone 0900 333 20 to donate $20 or visit www.arthritis.org.nz