Peter Wearden, MD, PhD, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at Children’s Hospital is involved in numerous medical research projects and maintains an extremely active clinical practice. He also served as Director of Surgery for the McGowan Center for Preclinical Studies at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and then following that position he was a Clinical Instructor in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Although today Dr. Wearden is a very busy surgeon, he’s not too busy to implement one more highly effective initiative: The Beads of Courage® Program at Children’s.
The Beads of Courage® Program is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen the protective resources in children coping with serious illness. Through the program children tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path. The Beads of Courage® journey begins when a child is first given a length of string and beads that spell out his/her first name. Then, colorful beads, each representing a different treatment milestone are given to the child by their professional health care provider to add to their Beads of Courage® collection throughout their treatment. 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 treatment and after.
Dr. Wearden first became aware of this program while he was finishing his fellowship program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He said he had wanted to begin the program because he saw the happiness it brought to the children and to their families. There’s a bead for every poke and prod a child receives, allowing them to look back at their treatment as a series of accomplishments.
Children’s is the first hospital to use the beads program in their heart center; other hospitals have used the program for children in treatment for cancer.
Illustration: The Beads of Courage® Program.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (06/20/07) article plus video
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Beads of Courage