Students make beads to help children with serious illnesses
Beads of Courage, a nonprofit organization, supplies the beads to pediatric patients in participating hospitals. Through the program, children tell their stories using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment paths.
For instance, white beads mark a chemotherapy course. Yellow beads signify every night a child spends away from home. Brown beads symbolize hair loss.
Students from four Wellwood fifth grade classes made beads to keep for themselves and also to donate to Beads of Courage. They made a total of 114 beads.
Wellwood art teacher Mary Sweeney learned about the program last year through a CBS television news story. The segment showed children of all ages wearing or carrying their strands of beads. Some children have more than 1,000 beads, according to the news report.
Lauren Burghardt, a fifth grade Wellwood student, decided to donate both of the beads she made instead of keeping one for herself.
"I want to recognize every brave child and what they're going through," she said.
Some students even stayed after school to make as many as five or six extra beads to be donated. Some students have suggested starting a "bead club" during the next school year so they could create and donate even more beads to the organization.
The project fits in with the district’s goal of teaching its students to be socially responsible citizens.
“Students not only learn about the process of modeling, firing and glazing clay ceramic clay, but they also learn about how they can make a positive impact and a difference in another human being's life,” said Ms. Sweeney.
How the program works:
Upon enrollment, each child is given the Beads of Courage bead color guide with a detachable membership card. Their Beads of Courage journey begins when 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 children 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 (available from Beads of Courage, Inc.) There are specific Beads of Courage Program Bead guides for cancer, cardiac conditions, burn injuries, and serious illness.
All program bead guides were developed in collaboration with experts in the field (nurses, doctors, child life specialists and social workers) so that each bead guide would reflect meaningful acknowledgment of a child's treatment journey.
Source: Beads of Courage website
Photo 1 caption: Representatives from each fifth grade class display the beads that will be donated. From the left are Jacob Gerardi, Phoebe Lindabury, Ari Spinoza and Cassandra Wojtasiewicz.