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Beads of Courage®

Beads of Courage® is a therapeutic programme that recognises the strength and courage of each child during cancer treatment and procedures.


On average three children in New Zealand are diagnosed with cancer each week. These children collectively undergo an astounding 100,000 treatments and procedures each year. For every treatment and procedure a child endures they receive a Bead of Courage.

Beads of Courage is a unique programme designed to honour the challenging journey children take while receiving care for cancer. Each collection of beads symbolises the courage and honours the milestones achieved along the treatment path.

The Beads of Courage® programme helps children cope by decreasing their illness-related distress, increases the use of positive coping strategies, helps them to find meaning in their illness and helps to restore their sense of self through creativity. The programme provides something tangible that a child can use to tell family and caregivers about their experience during treatment. The beads also help explain to teachers and friends what has happened to them whilst they have been away from school. Parents of younger children enrolled in the programme can use the beads in the future to explain to their child what they have been through.

Each bead represents a treatment (for example chemotherapy, injections, scans); an experience (hair loss, isolation, fever) or a milestone (completion of treatment). For each medical procedure or treatment the child will receive a bead.

In June 2015, the Child Cancer Foundation announced a significant partnership with Ngāi Tahu Pounamu with the launch of a new hand-carved pounamu bead as part of the Beads of Courage® programme, which recognises the strength and courage of each child during cancer treatment. Read more about the Pounamu for Courage bead.
The Beads of Courage® Programme depends upon two types of beads:
1. Program Beads. These are the vast majority of beads used in the program. These beads are commercially manufactured due largely to the sheer numbers involved. These beads are the ones that correspond to specific events in treatment.
2. Act of Courage Beads. These are the artist-made glass beads that are given to acknowledge the milestones in a child's treatment journey. 
Types of Act of Courage beads include:
COURAGE BEADS: Given for acts of bravery or courage above what is accounted for within the programme beads. For example, on completion of 6-8 weeks of radiation therapy and to have mastered how to lie as still as possible, for learning how to take tablets or for letting the doctors and nurses carry out procedures that they really hate!  
BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT: Every time a child has a bone marrow transplant they receive an Act of Courage bead to mark this treatment milestone.
PARTNER IN COURAGE: These beads are given to the bone marrow donor if known to the child, this could be a parent or sibling but other times it could be another extended family member or a family friend.
PURPLE HEART: The best bead - the purple heart is given at completion of treatment. Each bead is unique and the child gets to choose which purple heart bead they want!
BUTTERFLY BEADS: Beautiful butterfly shaped beads that are given to every parent who has experienced the loss of their child. Butterflies are well known symbols of peace and hope.

PARENT HEART: Heart bead presented to a parent at a particularly difficult time to just say “We know it's hard going for you as well!”

Sibling Beads

The Child Cancer Foundation also offers the Sibling Beads programme to provide special siblings the opportunity to earn beads by displaying positive behaviour and helpful attitudes to assist the family through the cancer journey. These unique beads offer siblings a representation of their part in supporting their brother or sister with cancer. 


Beads of Courage® is a United States federally registered trade mark of Beads of Courage® Inc and is used under license.

Recognise the courage of children with cancer by gifting a bead
Make a $5 donation and gift a Beads of Courage® to a child with cancer to directly support a child’s cancer journey.