Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beads of Courage

So I get asked alot what is Beads of Courage?

The Program is a nationwide resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen the protective resources in children coping with serious illness. Through the program children like my daughter tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path.

Ongoing evaluation of the Beads of Courage program indicates that the program helps to decrease illness-related distress, increase the use of positive coping strategies, helps children find meaning in illness, and restore sense of self in children coping with serious illness. The program also provides something tangible the child can use to tell about their experience during cancer treatment and after.

Olivia began her journey in December of 2002. 24 hours after she was born a nurse noticed that she was having trouble nursing. She asked if she could take her to the nursery to just check her vitals and that she would bring her right back to us. Olivia never came back...She was immediately taken to the NICU where they began running all kinds of tests on her to see what was wrong. This is when we got the news that she was born with 3 Congenital Heart Defects affecting both sides of her heart. She had open heart surgery in June of 2003 at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta when she was 6 months old to repair her Pulmonary Valve and her Coarctation of the Aorta. She is doing remarkably well today but will have to have more surgery in the future.

As you can imagine behind every success story like Olivia, there is a kid. A real kid who never asked to be born with CHD. So many kids like her have no choice but to go through what is necessary to feel better, to be able to play, and sometimes just to live. Watching them go through painful procedures and to try to hold back the tears of having just one more poke or needle prick is hard.  They fight a battle that most of us will never see or ever have to endure. This is what the Beads of Courage program is here for. So that in some way, big or small, these kids can be recognized for the sheer bravery that comes with just being themselves. They receive a handmade bead for many of the procedures they have to endure- pokes, echoes, surgeries, admission in to the hospital, and so many other things. When heart patients complete treatment, they have this beautiful strand of beads that they can point to and without saying a word, it shows how brave they are. Every bead required Strength, Patience and Courage. That's what the Beads of Courage are all about.

As a mom who has experienced this program first hand, I can tell you that it has allowed my daughter to share with so many others about her journey. It has reminded her that she has Courage, Patience and enormous amount of Strength.

You can be a part of this wonderful program too, click here to make a donation today! Please join us on March 26th for our 2nd Annual Bowling for Beads Event!

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