Beads of Courage is a first-of-its-kind program that brings together clinical intervention and the ancient art of glass bead-making. Jean Baruch, a pediatric oncology nurse, started this organization when she started to feel the need to do more for her young patients and their families.
As a child undergoes treatment, their health care provider gives them a bead in recognition of milestones, procedures, and acts of bravery. Whether it’s an overnight stay in the hospital or a radiation treatment, a child receives a bead as a powerful reminder of their courage, determination, and progress on their treatment journey. Beads of Courage provides the child, their family, and the medical team with a way to celebrate a goal, see their progress, and talk about their journey through treatment. While each bead represents something painful and difficult, it also says “I did it.”
Beads of Courage is designed to support and strengthen children and their families as they cope with a serious illness. The organization has gone beyond helping children and families cope as it inspires and gives optimism to those afflicted by illness.
Beads of Courage has created a community of support for children facing serious illness and their families that extends beyond the hospital room. Among the countless volunteers that give their time to Beads of Courage are the spirited glass artisans of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers who donate their time to create over 60,000 one of a kind handmade beads- each one representing a milestone in a child’s treatment journey.
Beads of Courage currently serves 150 hospitals, but the list is growing fast. Hospitals in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, and New Zealand have adopted the program as an innovative part of treatment. More than 30,000 children receive support from Beads of Courage as it helps decrease illness-related stress, increases the use of positive coping strategies, helps members find meaning in illness, and restores a sense of hope in those coping with illness.
Most recently, Team Beads of Courage was launched. Professional and amateur athletes receive beads matched with a child and carry them during their game, on a race, and through a journey. Once the event is completed, the beads are sent back to a child along with a note of encouragement. Several members of the US Olympic team carried beads with them, along with Iditarod mushers throughout their 1,000 mile journey.
Feedback from children and their families on Beads of Courage has been nothing but positive, inspiring, and a true testament to the power of human connectedness through art. Beads of Courage grew from an idea into an amazing organization supporting thousands.
Please support Beads of Courage as it inspires and empowers those struggling with childhood illnesses. With one small bead comes immeasurable hope and strength.