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Beads of Courage Program Empowers Patients to Share Their Stories

Following the 2017 INTEGRIS Gala benefitting INTEGRIS Children's, generous gala donors launched the INTEGRIS Children’s Child Life Specialist program. This critical program provides specialized care for pediatric and neonatal patients and their families- helping them to understand their diagnoses and navigate through the emotional, psychological and financial challenges of being in the hospital. We were able to talk with Ashley Ochs, INTEGRIS Children’s Child Life Manager, about one of their special programs, Beads of Courage and its impact on the care of our littlest patients. 

Beads of Courage is a nationwide program that provides children with the opportunity to collect handmade, glass beads based on personalized procedures, tests, surgeries, accomplishments, and other hospital related tasks. The program was made possible at INTEGRIS Children’s through the generosity of an anonymous grateful patient family.

At INTEGRIS Children’s, children in the NICU, with a chronic illness, or those who have experienced a burn are eligible to participate in the Beads of Courage program. This program allows patients and families to document a patient’s journey of courage and strength by stringing different beads that correlate to their medical journey. Patients, siblings, and parents are all encouraged to be involved with the patient’s bead collection, creating a family centered environment and program to aid in positive coping and understanding. 

Ashley shared, “Since we have started Beads of Courage at INTEGRIS Children’s, my heart has been full seeing the smiles on parents’ faces when they talk about the long bead strands hanging in the rooms of babies in the NICU. The impact reaches beyond the patient and extends into the hearts and minds of parents and everyone involved in the patients’ care.”

One particular patient was admitted to INTEGRIS Children’s at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center who was terrified of the hospital and needles. This patient found comfort after each procedure through the collection of the beads. Their fear was transformed into bravery, with each bead serving as a physical representation of their courage. 

For each needle pick, patients receive a black bead. Light green for a test, white for learning a new medication, special bead selections when exhibiting an act of bravery, and many more. These beads empower our patients to have a means of sharing their story with others, providing something tangible they can use to tell others about their experience during treatment and afterward. 

According to Beads of Courage’s website, “ongoing evaluation 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.”

We are deeply grateful for the generosity of the donors who helped provide child life services at INTEGRIS Children’s, and for those who fund the Beads of Courage program. Philanthropy allows us to implement innovative programs and services to better care for our patients and their families, and we can’t thank you enough.

For more information on the Beads of Courage program visit: beadsofcourage.org

Give today to INTEGRIS Children’s to help us support programs like Beads of Courage at integrisgiving.org