Beads of Courage “Bead Design Challenge” Turns Children’s Inspiring Artwork into Handmade Glass Beads

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Annual Program Acknowledges Courage and Creativity of Children Coping with Serious Illness

If the concept of laughter was captured in a child’s drawing, what would it look like? According to 13-year-old Tate Neubecker, a Beads of Courage member at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland, California, “’Laugh’ means a jelly bean to me – with big, wide smiles.”

Tate’s colorful drawing of a jovial jelly bean sporting a red top hat is one of ten winning entries in the 2014 Bead Design Challenge, a signature Beads of Courage program which helps raise awareness and funds to support the organization’s mission, while honoring the children who participate in a meaningful way. Jewelry Television® serves as Presenting Sponsor of the Bead Design Challenge.

Beads of Courage, Inc. is a nonprofit organization providing innovative arts-in-medicine programs for children coping with cancer and other serious illnesses in 260 hospitals throughout the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The organization currently serves more than 30,000 children. Through the flagship Beads of Courage Program, children receive colorful beads that visually symbolize each child’s treatment journey.

Through the Bead Design Challenge, now in its second year, Beads of Courage children and siblings in ten selected hospitals drew pictures to illustrate one of these words: joy, inspire, love, strength, hope, laugh, life, spirit, courage, and peace. The children were asked to think about what that word would look like if it was an actual bead.

Once the winning drawings were selected, ten bead artists were challenged to transform the children’s imaginative drawings into real-life handcrafted glass beads. Then, jewelry designers chosen by Soft Flex Company – the Bead Design Challenge Creativity Sponsor – incorporated the beads into finished necklace designs. The necklaces were displayed at the 2014 Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

A limited number of these unique artisan beads are now available for purchase on the Beads of Courage website, where the children’s original artwork is also shown. Proceeds from the sales go directly to support the Beads of Courage Program for children coping with serious illness.

Each purchase includes a handmade lampwork bead, Bead Program Card, and the book “Pipal Trees and Jelly Beans,” which highlights all ten of this year’s winning designs and the stories behind them.

The title, “Pipal Trees and Jelly Beans,” comes from Tate’s jelly bean bead, along with the “strength” bead based on a drawing of a pipal tree by five-year-old Beads of Courage member Niharika Perianayagam from Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

As Niharika explains, “(There was a) lone pipal tree growing out of a concrete wall on my grandma’s terrace in India, where I was diagnosed with leukemia. My mom told me if that sapling could crack the wall, I could beat the ‘boo boo.’”

The direct link to view and purchase the 2014 Bead Design Challenge beads and book is

The hospitals involved in the 2014 Bead Design Challenge are:

Beads of Courage Member Hospital:                    
Bead Design Challenge Theme:
Honorary Beads of Courage Member Jessi Ryelin; JOY    
Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago, IL; INSPIRE
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinatti OH; LOVE
Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Baltimore MD; STRENGTH
CHOC Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Orange County CA; HOPE
Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland, Oakland CA; LAUGH    
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Palo Alto CA; LIFE
Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle WA); SPIRIT
Diamond Children’s Medical Center, Tucson AZ; COURAGE
Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix AZ; PEACE

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Source: Beads of Courage, Inc.

About Beads of Courage: The mission of Beads of Courage (BOC) is to provide innovative arts-in-medicine programs for children coping with cancer and other serious illness, their families, and healthcare providers who care for them. BOC programs are evidence-based interventions designed to strengthen resilience, alleviate suffering, and improve the psychosocial adjustment process. Beads of Courage currently serves 260 member hospitals in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan and New Zealand. BOC is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. For more information, visit

About Jewelry Television®: Jewelry Television® (JTV) is one of the largest multichannel retailers of jewelry and gemstones in the U.S. appealing to fashion-conscious women, jewelry-making enthusiasts and private collectors. The privately-held shopping network broadcasts high definition programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to more than 80 million U.S. households. Committed to consumer education, the network employs numerous Graduate Gemologists and Accredited Jewelry Professionals. offers the most comprehensive jewelry and gemstone Learning Library on the internet, and is the third largest jewelry website according to Internet Retailer's Top 500 Guide for 2012.

About Soft Flex Company: Simply the BEST beading wire! Soft Flex Company is the leading innovator in the manufacturing of beading wire and a distributor of tools, beads and supplies for making beaded jewelry. They celebrate innovative ideas and proudly inspire creativity with their passion to educate. contains hundreds of free project ideas, beading tips and articles. It is also a retail friendly website with thousands of wonderful beading products! Soft Flex Company is dedicated to exceeding the expectations of their customers.

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Jenn Hepner
Hepner Communications
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