Last year, I had the pleasure of editing Creating Glass Beads, the just-released book by author and glass bead artist Jeri Warhaftig. Jeri told me she would donate all of the test beads she made while developing the 10 tutorials in her book to a charity called “Beads of Courage” (BOC for short). Just last week, after a juried process, Jeri was honored to learn that one of her beads was included in a Beads of Courage – NASA charitable project called Beads in Space. Her STAR bead will be carried into space on NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour, Mission STS-134 on April 19, 2011. How cool is that?!
This good news is a great excuse to share some info about this worthy group with Lark’s readers. I had a little Q and A with Jeri; with the help of the Beads of Courage organization, she told me all about the charity and its good work.
Q: What is Beads of Courage and how is it part of a charitable effort?
A: Beads of Courage is an Arts in Medicine program in 91 hospitals around the world, that helps children facing life-threatening illness. Children are able to select beads as badges of courage honoring everything the child has been through on their treatment journey.
Q: Where do the beads come from?
A: There are many sources, but glass beadmakers from around the world donate handmade glass beads that help support Beads of Courage programs. Last year 41,000 glass beads were donated; in 2011 that number will need to double to keep up with new sites coming on board every month. You can learn how to donate at www.BeadsofCourage.org.
Q: How did you get involved with this program?
A: The International Society of Glass Beadmakers has long supported Beads of Courage and many of its members donate beads, and sponsor daylong events to make beads for BOC. I usually give them the demo beads from my classes, and also the test beads created in development of my books’ tutorials.
Q: How did Beads of Courage get involved with NASA and the Beads in Space initiative?
A: Beads in Space started with 6-year-old Sydney Newton, who amassed a strand of beads that encircled her neck three times, and physically demonstrated her six months of cancer treatment. Her father arranged for Beads of Courage to be included in the payload for the Space Shuttle Atlantis last year. Seventeen space-themed beads were selected to travel into space. There is a great article about the first flight here.
Q: Can you tell us about the Beads in Space flight that includes your bead?
A: Earlier this year, I answered a Call for Entries. Beads in Space asked for the submission of small space-themed beads that would appeal to kids. 124 beads were submitted for jury consideration, and 39 beads were selected. My STAR bead has a dichroic glass core, copper stars, and a sandblasted star pattern. The hole is lined with sterling silver. I am thrilled out of my mind to be selected for several reasons. It is a worthy cause, it is the last space shuttle launch, and it is led by Commander Mark Kelly, who happens to be from my hometown of West Orange, New Jersey.
Q: What will happen to the beads after they return from space?
A: Upon return, the Beads in Space beads will travel the U.S. to Beads of Courage hospitals in an exhibit to bring a BOOST of enCOURAGEment to children facing life-threatening illness. Each child will receive a poster with pictures of the beads on them as well as a commemorative pewter Beads of Courage shuttle bead. Check out www.BeadsofCourage.org for more information.
You can view a CBS News video about Beads of Courage here.
Below are just a few of the other beads going up on the Endeavor. See every one of the beads by going here.