Beads of Courage - Arts In Medicine For Children

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It is my year anniversary of being inducted into the  Beads of Courage Hall of Fame. As another year passes, I can’t help but reflect on what a fantastic organization they are and how thankful I am each and every time I can help, even a little.

Beads of Courage, Inc. (a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization) has worked diligently to transform the treatment experience for children coping with cancer and other serious illness through our arts-in-medicine programs. Through the Beads of Courage Program children are given a visible way to document their treatment journey as they receive colorful beads of courage each which symbolize treatments overcome as dictated by the official Beads of Courage® bead guide. For example, for every blood transfusion a red bead, for every chemotherapy a white bead, and for every poke by a needle a black bead. There are over 20 different treatments and procedures that Beads of Courage® are given for. In addition, in collaboration with the International Society of Glass Beadmakers, Beads of Courage® distributes handmade, lampwork beads that are donated and individually packaged by volunteers so that children can receive one-of-a-kind beads for treatment milestones.

Advancing the Science of Caring. On the surface, the Beads of Courage® Program may seem like a fun “craft”, however, it is a program driven by theories and research which provide supporting evidence that the gifting of beads by clinicians during treatment can alleviate the experience of suffering, strengthen resilience, and improve the quality of life for participating children. The Program provides a powerful dose of narrative medicine that restores sense of self, and helps children and teens connect with others through their beads. Health care providers who are involved in the Beads of Courage® Program receive training by program staff so that these outcomes are achieved for every child and family who receives the program, while advancing the science of caring.

Over the years, we have donated bundles of wire to Beads of Courage. Most recently, we donated beading wire for their annual Bracelet Event with Katie Hacker in Tucson. It sounds like it was a fantastic fundraiser and it looks like a good time was had by all. I have to send a big thank you to  Allegory Gallery and Green Girl Studios for including us!

One of my favorite projects that we sponsored with Beads of Courage is the 1,000 Origami Cranes display.

The 1,000 Origami Cranes community art project was conceived by Tucson resident Coppelia Tarantal, whose niece, Kelsey Luria received Beads of Courage during her treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Although Kelsey lost her battle with cancer, her spirit, legacy and desire to positively impact the lives of children and teens with cancer lives on. The 1,000 Origami Cranes project celebrates Kelsey’s life and the lives of all children and teens coping with cancer and other serious illnesses. Japanese folklore suggests people with patience and commitment for such a project will be granted a wish.

Get Involved! The international headquarters for Beads of Courage, Inc. is located in Tucson, Arizona, however, the scope of outreach is international. The organization depends on the generosity of volunteers, donors and artists groups to pursue their mission of providing arts-in-medicine programs for children coping with serious illness. There are many ways to get involved to support the mission of Beads of Courage® and to directly support children through Beads of Courage Programs in your community. Please visit their website to learn more at If you are interested in getting involved to support the mission of Beads of Courage, Inc.

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Sara Oehler (pronounced Ay-ler) is a well-known jewelry designer living in the Bay Area. Sara is the author of several beading books, including her latest title, written with Kristen Fagan, Seed Bead Revolution. She has designed and written for numerous publications including: BeadStyle, Bead&Button, Bead Trends, Stringing, Jewelry in Fashion Trends, Simply Beads, The Flow and Today's Creative Home Arts. Currently, Sara is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Soft Flex Company.
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