Guest Blog Post – Heather Stemas, Art Therapist

Guest Blog Post – Heather Stemas, Art Therapist
Art Cards decorated by Heather Stemas and family

Art Therapist Heather Stemas shares …

Hospitalization and chronic illness can take a toll on a person. In addition to physical pain, invasive procedures and discomfort, separation from educational, recreational and community supports are common and can lead to feelings of depression, and isolation. As an art therapist working with kids with acute and chronic illness, I’ve seen how art and art making can help kids and teens transcend limits, communicate what can’t be said, celebrate what they value and so much more. It provides a way for them to record, reorder, and re-imagine their stories.

Beads of Courage programs have been a wonderful addition to our Expressive Arts program because they offer many of the same benefits; individuals have a tangible, visible, meaningful way to share their story and connect with others. A young Beads of Courage member who experiences frequent hospitalization responded joyfully when she got a “Carry a Bead” Act of Courage bead. She believes it’s a powerful symbol that someone was thinking about her and connecting with her through the bead.

When the pandemic began, I looked for ways that my family could connect with others and reach out via social distancing in a way that was creative and meaningful. I’ve seen the benefits of Beads of Courage for those who experience hospitalization and chronic illness and I trust the mission, organization and product!

The Beads of Courage Art Card Kit was a no-brainer. It’s cost effective, hassle-free, and the corresponding pewter bead and Courage Clip is pretty sweet! I purchased a deck of the cards and enlisted my kids and my husband to create them. Some of the members of my daughter’s Girl Scout troop were interested as well. I would highly recommend it from a personal and a professional perspective.

Heather Stemas, M Ed, ATR-BC, LCPAT

Art Therapist, Creative & Therapeutic Arts
Department of Child Life and Integrative Services
Children’s National Hospital, Washington, DC

A Note from Beads of Courage …

We believe that caring intentions, art, and human connectedness play a strong role in healing. We know that a bead gifted with positive intention and with artwork from another sends a message that is spirit-lifting and says, “You are not alone!” Drawing and making art are also great ways to reduce stress, refocus and help people feel good. Art is a part of humanity and connects us. We invite you to heal through the arts and help others do the same.

Click here to learn more and select an Art Card Kit for yourself, your family, or group to do together. Each kit will help 20 children in the Beads of Courage Program. Please post pics of your decorated Art Cards using the hashtag #beadsofcourage on social media!