ICA showing bags of support for kids with cancer to store beads of courage

by Sylvia Pownall

Women in a south Dublin ICA group have turned their energies during lockdown to crafting special bags for children with cancer to store their Beads of Courage.

Members of the Marlay guild in Rathfarnham continued with their charity work even without their weekly meetings – making scrubs for a nursing home and knits for premature babies in the Rotunda Hospital.

But it’s the Beads of Courage programme, run by Childhood Cancer Foundation Ireland, which has captured their imagination, and hearts, in recent months.

The charity is founded and led by parents of children with cancer and has been proven to decrease stress and help kids find meaning in illness.

CCFI voluntary director Mary-Claire Rennick said: “Families living with childhood cancer are all too familiar with the isolation that the wider world has faced on and off since March. 

“Unfortunately, it is the reality for families of children with cancer for years during treatment, due to the serious risk of infection. 

“Beads of Courage enables children to tell their story using colourful beads – symbols of courage that mark the milestones of their particular treatment path.”

She added: “The average length of treatment for childhood cancer is three to five years and children will have many interventions along the way. 

The beads mark each chemotherapy, each blood transfusion, each surgery, each moment of courage. 

“The bags that the women in the Marlay Guild ICA craft group have been making for us allow the children to store their beads and they love the colourful, fun fabrics.”

Marlay guild’s craft co-ordinator Colette Appleby said members’ sewing machines have been “working overtime” over the past six months.

She revealed: “When I heard about Beads of Courage I knew it would be of interest and we’re now on our third or fourth batch of bags. We source the fabrics from a wholesaler in Ballymount and use trimmings so we have very little waste. 

“The fabric changes depending on the need – sometimes they need more for younger children or it could be older boys. There are 70 or 80 bags being made up the moment.”

For more information on Beads of Courage and Childhood Cancer Foundation visit www.childhoodcancer.ie.

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