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Stories: Possibility Beads Program Launches

By Noreen Remtulla


This is not an ordinary story bound between two covers in a book.  Lena McNeil tells her story with an array of colourful beads. While receiving treatment at SickKids for osteosarcoma, the same bone cancer as Terry Fox, Lena collected enough beads to create four different necklaces.

Inspired by the bead program Lena worked with child-life specialist, Michelle Bernardi to create a similar program at Bloorview.  “I told them it’s kind of like a souvenir of your treatment.”

The launch of the Possibility Beads Program had Bloorview’s inpatients come together to celebrate and to begin telling their beaded stories on June 12, 2007.

All of the children began to build their necklaces by stringing letter beads onto colourful string to spell their names.  They received a special green Bloorview bead and a beautiful butterfly bead named after Lena.  It represents Lena’s hard work in implementing the Possibility Beads. 

Each bead represents a procedure or special accomplishment that each child has undergone or experienced at Bloorview.  For instance, children receive a happy face bead for participating in a Child Life activity. (The children collect one happy face bead to represent Child Life when they start their necklace). Participating in a therapeutic recreation or playroom activity is recognized by a round multi-coloured sparkle and the bead that represents attending school is represented by a multi-coloured sparkle star.  At the launch of the bead program, Kushi an inpatient client at Bloorview, received a special round balloon bead since she celebrated her birthday while at Bloorview.     

There is also a WOW bead that children can earn.  Lena explains, “You get that bead when you do a good job, like when a nurse takes a dressing off and thinks you did a great job.”

“More than anything, the beads are an incredible source of motivation for the kids,” Bernardi says, “Many of these children have giant goals like learning how to walk or how to speak again, and it can take a long, long time. The beads help break the goal down into smaller goals, so they can see that they are making achievements everyday.”

Lena created the Bloorview Possibility beads to help kids remember what they accomplished at Bloorview Kids Rehab. “When they get discharged, they can see what they went through.”

Donations to Bloorview’s Possibility Bead program can be directed to the Child Life department by calling 416-425-6220, extension 6272.

To purchase a necklace or bracelet in support of this program, contact:

Michelle Bernardi
Tel: 416-425-6220, extension 6272
E-mail: mbernardi at bloorview dot ca (*see Note below)

*Note: Copy the above e-mail address into the To field of your e-mail message and reconstruct the e-mail address by removing the spaces and replacing the “at” and “dot” with the proper symbols (@ and .) respectively.

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