Beads of Courage®

The Beads of Courage® programme is a registered therapeutic programme and the Child Cancer Foundation holds the licence to deliver the programme to children in New Zealand undergoing treatment for cancer.

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The Beads of Courage® programme is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen children and families coping with a serious illness. Through the programme, children tell their story using colourful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path. The programme helps them to find meaning in their illness and helps to restore their sense of self through creativity. It also provides something tangible that a child can use to tell family and care-givers about their experience during treatment. The beads can also be used to explain to teachers and friends what has happened to them whilst they have been away from kindy or school. Parents of younger children enrolled in the programme can use the beads in the future to explain to their child what they have been through.

Each special COURAGE BEAD given to a child undergoing treatment for cancer is donated by our community of glass bead artists. The bead is individually packaged and presented to the child and it is given with a card that specifies the donating artist’s name. So it is very personalised – each child and their parents know who has lovingly made this bead for them.

The Beads of Courage® programme depends upon two types of beads:

1. Programme Beads. These are the vast majority of beads used. These beads are commercially manufactured due largely to the sheer numbers involved. These beads are the ones that you may have seen on bead guides that correspond to specific treatments or procedures the children undergo. We don’t ask artists to make programme beads.

2. Courage Beads. These are the artist-made glass beads that are given to acknowledge the milestones in a childs treatment journey. These are the beads that we are asking your assistance with and include:

ACT OF COURAGE BEADS: These are beads that recognise the strength and courage that a child has shown whilst undergoing all sorts of treatments including chemo & radiology treatments, for enduring numerous injections, for sitting or lying still for long periods of time whilst having scans or tests. They are usually around 14mm in size and, well, the world is your oyster! They can be anything really – bright, dotty, stripey, flowery, encased, quirky, little animals, different shapes etc. There is no limit. The brighter and more fun the better, but we gratefully use anything from what you make or donate. Artists often contribute beads that were technique practice beads or orphans beads for example. Everything helps.

BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT: Every child who has a Bone Marrow Transplant receives a special Courage Bead to mark this treatment milestone. These beads are usually a little larger in size than the Act of Courage as they are considered ‘Milestone’ beads and can be a little fancier.

PARTNER IN COURAGE: Often a parent or sibling will be the donor for a bone marrow transplant and these beads acknowledge their part on the journey. They can be a little larger in size than the children’s beads as usually adults or older people receive them. No limits as to what you may like to make or donate.

PURPLE HEART: Given at Completion of Treatment, these beads are very special for the children as they are awarded for beating cancer. They can be all sorts: encased, floral, striped etc. – as long as they are mostly purple. These are best with the hole running from side to side, rather than top to bottom if possible.

PARENT HEART: Presented to a parent at a particularly difficult time to just say “We know it’s hard going for you as well!” These hearts are any colour other than purple – again the hole running side to side is useful.

BUTTERFLY BEAD: These are given to the parents of a child who has lost the battle with cancer, and are presented in a commemorative box. Butterflies Collect2 BOCAs they are for the loss of a life, it is good that they reflect that and are beautiful and respectful (no happy faces on the butterflies for e.g.) Also need to be reasonably robust.

The problem that we are having in providing this resource to our kids is that we are a very small community of bead artists here in NZ. And of the community that exists, only a few of us are currently donating beads on a regular basis. Are you able to help us out by making some lamp worked beads for donation to the programme – or even by donating any odd lamp worked beads that you have spare? On a regular basis?

Ideally (and sadly) this year, we expect that we will need approximately 10,000 of these handmade beads donated so that children can continue to receive one-of-a-kind beads for significant treatment milestones. These beads truly bring the arts to the arts-in-medicine mission. We are currently reaching only 1800 and we need all the help we can get to help our kids. If you have any friends that are bead makers that may be willing to contribute too, please email Kari at . We need to spread the word.

If you are willing to contribute your beads to the Beads of Courage® programme, please email Kari Lindsay-Beale at and she will send you a welcome pack and the Beads of Courage® programme tutorials for hearts and butterflies. Please send any beads that you may wish to donate to: Kari Lindsay-Beale 5 Dene Court Lane Greenhithe 0632 Auckland