Sarah Ford | February 24, 2015

Beads of Courage Helps Tell the Stories of Cardiac ICU Patients

Every patient at Children’s National Health System has a story and sometimes they choose to animate them through the Beads of Courage® program.

Beads of Courage® was brought to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Children’s National in 2009 by art therapist Heather Stemas, M Ed, ATR-BC, LCPAT, and is a collaboration with art therapy, social work, and child life.

“The beads appeal to everyone and when families start to learn more about the symbolism of the beads, they become a prized possession,” social worker Heather Langlois said. Langlois manages the Beads for Courage® program at Children’s National and is in charge of supplies and enrolling families.

Children in the Cardiac ICU endure many procedures and the beads help capture every visit, test, and milestone.

“It’s a beautiful way to capture the child’s experience. Every yellow bead was a night in the hospital, every black bead was a needle poke,” Langlois said. “Kids who are born with congenital heart disease have a lifelong condition, and some of our kids are so young that this is a way to remember and a tangible way to tell their story.”

The beads even help parents process the level of care their children receive.

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