Where it began
The Beads of Courage® programme was first introduced in 2003 in Arizona by a clinical nurse specialist, Jan Barusch. Since then it has spread to over 60 children’s hospitals in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and Japan.
Childhood Cancer Foundation secured the sub license to bring Beads of Courage to Ireland. From the testimonials of parents and children in other countries we felt that it was a worthwhile programme to bring to Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin. We have the full support of the haematology oncology team there who agree with the psycho-social benefits that this programme offers to children dealing with cancer. After over a year of discussion with hospital management and legal advisers the programme was rolled out at the end of 2015. Beads of Courage is working well within the hospital and we have received a lot of positive feedback from the children enrolled in the programme, and their families.
How the Programme works
Beads of Courage is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen children and families coping with 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.
Upon enrollment each child is given the bead colour guide with a detachable membership card. Their Beads of Courage journey begins when they are first given a length of string and beads that spell out their first name. Throughout their treatment, colourful beads, each representing a different treatment milestone, are given to the child by their health care provider to add to their Beads of Courage collection.
All Programme 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.
Ongoing evaluation of the Beads of Courage programme indicates that it helps to decrease illness-related distress, increase the use of positive coping strategies, helps children find meaning in illness, and restores sense of self in children coping with serious illness. The programme also provides something tangible the child can use to tell about their experience during treatment and after.
The Beads of Courage programme could not happen without the wonderful play specialists working on St John's Ward. Aine and Carol always do their best to keep our kids smiling. Recently Aine was nominated by Cliodhna for a special Beads Of Courage award. You can see the details in the photos below. Well done to Aine who shows her Olympian spirit everyday while working with children in treatment for cancer.