Patty Lakinsmith and I were invited to a gathering held by the "Beads of Courage" organization. Until that time, I had not even heard of it. What this group does just blows my mind!
The organization was started by Jean Baruch as part of her work for her Phd. in Nursing at the University of Arizona, School of Nursing, and they work to transform the treatment experience for children coping with chronic, life threatening illness through their art-in-medicine program. Bead artists from all over the world make and donate beads to this cause and each type of bead signifies a treatment or milestone in the child's illness. The organization trains and works with staff in over 60 hospitals across the US, New Zealand, and Japan.
I'm a former nurse and I think of myself as fairly stoic when it comes to dealing with illness. (Unless, of course, it's my family) but I have to tell you, just hearing and reading about this program choked me up. Hard to imagine a child suffering through cancer, burn injuries, cardiac conditions and other serious illnesses,
so to allow a healthcare worker to help that child through an alternative program such as this is really touching. I'm disappointed I don't make beads!
Here's how it works: each child is first given a length of string and beads that spell out their first name. Then, colorful beads, each representing a different treatment milestone, are given to the child by their professional health care provider to add to their Beads of Courage collection throughout their treatment as determined by the Beads of Courage Bead Guide. Blue for Spinal injection, Red for surgery, striped for hair loss, and so on...
I saw a video of a girl with Lukemia who had a collection of beads that numbered over 100. Breaks my heart. The program extends to siblings and parents as well.
Patty with Jean Baruch, founder
For a small donation, we each got to make our name
out of beads.
There's really so much more to this program...I'd rather you read about it yourself by clicking on this link. You won't be sorry! http://www.beadsofcourage.org/