One warrior to another: Veterans create and deliver ‘warrior beads’ to patients at Children’s Hospital

London, ON - John Doucette gently placed his thumbprint into the soft bead of clay, offering a prayer and making a wish. He knew someday this bead – after it is painted and kiln fired – might bring strength to a child fighting an illness or injury at Children’s Hospital.

A former member of the Canadian Army, John has witnessed his own share of battles as a competitive boxer and stroke survivor. He now resides in the Veterans Care Program at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute.

Part of John’s regular routine is heading to the veteran’s art studios at Parkwood Institute, where he and other veterans have recently created ‘warrior’ beads to give to patients at Children’s Hospital. These will be part of the Hospital’s Bravery Bead Program to help children and families note their personal journey through a long-term illness or injury. Coloured beads are added to the child’s bravery string to represent a different type of care or treatment.

“I put my fingerprint in each bead so the children can see it’s a gift from an older warrior to a younger warrior,” says John. “These children are in a tough place, and fighting to get well. I want to be helpful and make them happy, and maybe give them the possibility of a miracle. I’m sure they can all use a miracle.”

An important aspect of a child’s health care experience

With the help of Parkwood Institute staff, John and a team of veterans have molded, painted and glazed the clay beads. Painted bright blue, each one is the diameter of a dime and the thickness of notepad. As well, red poppy beads have been created to distribute to children who are in hospital on Remembrance Day.

“Bravery beads are such an important aspect of a child’s health care experience. They are a physical representation of the unique journey that they have endured. These ‘warrior’ beads are going to be so meaningful to so many children, knowing that a veteran is standing with them through tough times,” says Scott Fortnum, President and CEO, Children’s Health Foundation.

On May 31, John will be among four veterans going to Children’s Hospital to personally deliver ‘warrior’ beads to children.

“This symbolism of the beads is amazing – when a child is in hospital and feels frightened or scared, she can hold a handmade bead given to her by a veteran who knows what it’s like to fight,” says Kim Smith, an art instructor at Parkwood Institute. “Our veterans have put their heart and soul into these small pieces of art, and they’re so thrilled to deliver them to the children.”

Media are invited to see the veterans give beads to a child who is a patient at Children’s Hospital. Photography and video are permitted within a designated inpatient unit of the hospital; no photography or video is allowed in public areas of the hospital.

To pre-arrange interviews with a veteran and the child’s family, use the contact listed below.

When: May 31, 2019 at 9:50 am (veterans arrive at Children’s Hospital)

Where: Main entrance/atrium, Children’s Hospital, 800 Commissioners Road East, London, Ont.

For more information

Laura Dockstader, Coordinator, Communication and Public Affairs
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
519.646.6100 ext. 42689
Rebecca Milec, Manager, Marketing and Communications
Children’s Health Foundation
519.432.8062 ext. 75276 @email
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