Bravery Beads show kids' courage

There’s no doubt children facing painful treatments, life-threatening diagnoses, and long stays in hospital are brave. The Bravery Bead program at HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital aims to recognize just how courageous these kids are.

“It’s a program that really validates kids’ experiences and helps them explain what they’ve gone through,” says Nicole Hase-Wilson, Clinical Service Lead of the Child Life department.

Children participating in the Bravery Bead program get a bead for significant moments in their treatment. That could mean going for chemotherapy, getting blood drawn, or having surgery. They add this bead to a special cord to track their progress.

“It helps kids to tell their story of what their day to day looks like as a patient,” says Nicole.

One child who has enjoyed the bravery bead program is 13-year-old Ethan Marion-Gerula, who lives with neurofibromatosis. Neurofibromatosis is a condition that causes tumours to form on nerve tissue. Ethan had 68 weeks of chemotherapy to take care of a tumour on his optic nerve, and added a bead to his cord for every significant moment.

“The Bravery Beads (program) is a neat way to show how many appointments I have been to, and what I’ve gone through.  It’s a picture of my journey. When I shared them with my class they couldn’t believe how long it was, and now that I finished all of my treatments the bravery beads are taller than me!“ says Ethan.

Nicole says this program can be validating to kids and their families, and help them make sense of what they’ve been through. Many kids also enjoy collecting beads, and feel like getting theirs is something to look forward to each time they have treatment.

“It marks the day to day work, progress and realities of what it means to be a patient. Kids look at these beads and say wow, I did all this, and they can be proud of what they’ve accomplished,” says Nicole.

Funds donated to the Child Life department support programs like Bravery Beads. To donate click here.