Newham Hospital has adopted Beads of Courage to support children in telling their story using colourful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that they receive to acknowledge each step of their treatment journey.
Beads of Courage, run in the UK by the charity Beads of Courage UK, seeks to strengthen resilience and encourage the well-being of children coping with serious illness, including cancer, as well as supporting their families.
The beads cover a range of small and significant milestones: from chemotherapy (white bead) to an overnight stay (yellow bead) to blood tests (red bead). Children who participate in the programme receive a bead journal to keep record of their beads, a collection of beads which spell out their first name and a bead bag. Each bead is unique and marks a specific step in a child’s treatment, with more than 30 different beads available in total.
Seyrah Gemegah’s son Gabriel, aged eight, was diagnosed with c-cell lymphoma last year. Commenting on the programme launch Seyrah said:
“Hearing that Gabriel, who is such a happy and energetic young boy, has cancer was incredibly difficult for me to hear. Since his diagnosis he has been regularly in and out of hospital for chemotherapy and lumbar punctures, during which time he was also admitted after developing an infection. Despite his hard going treatment he has been so brave and I am so proud of everything he has faced.
“Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference during a hospital stay and joining the Beads of Courage programme means each treatment Gabriel completes will be recognised in the shape of a small but significant colourful bead. I’m very glad the programme has been set up at Newham Hospital, the beads will serve as a reminder of how strong and brave Gabriel, and every other child who faces cancer, is.”
Newham Hospital’s Rainbow Centre, where children and young people come to receive treatment, sees more than 11,000 patients per year.
Hamera Elahi, Play Specialist at Newham Hospital, said:
“Beads of Courage is an amazing initiative and we are very proud to have started this at Newham University Hospital for our young patients going through cancer treatment. The program gives the children and their families something to look forward to when going through this difficult time, helping them recognise their bravery and achievements in the face of their cancer.”
Sarah Drummond, co-founder of Beads of Courage UK, said:
“We are very pleased to have Newham Hospital on board with our programme. We have seen repeatedly just how much of a positive impact the programme is having on the mental health and wellbeing of patients who are taking part in the Beads of Courage programme.
“It has shifted the focus from treatment, to beads. It gives children a non-scary, tangible means to communicate with their peers about what it is they have been through and continue to go through, and it opens up lines of communication and breaks down barriers of illness through lack of knowledge.”
Beads of Courage was introduced at Newham Hospital thanks to Beads of Courage UK, which has sponsored the hospital to be part of the programme. Originally starting in the USA, the programme was been brought to the UK by Beads of Courage UK, with funding support from Children With Cancer, and has been successfully implemented in hospitals across the country, including at Royal London and Whipps Cross Hospitals.
To mark the launch, an event was held for children and families who were interested in taking part in the Beads of Courage programme. Parents were able to meet and talk about their child’s journey and ask questions about the programme. They also had the opportunity to watch the official Beads of Courage short film which includes more information about the programme and how it has supported children with cancer and their families.