New Trier sophomore collects donated glass beads from classmates for arts-in-medicine program


After enrolling in her first Glass Art course at New Trier High School this semester, sophomore Maddie Dieffenbacher was inspired to rally her peers to join forces with Beads of Courage, an organization with programs that help children and families coping with serious illness tell their unique stories through the use of colorful beads as symbols of strength.

Dieffenbacher visited eight Glass Art classes in one day to explain the Beads of Courage program with a five-minute PowerPoint. She also visited two clubs, Glass Guild and Hot Shop, asking for donations. After one week, students and teachers had placed more than 260 hand-crafted beads in the donation box she provided.

"A lot of the Glass Art classes were recently introduced to making beads, so it was amazing to see my peers taking the time to create art for children in need of support," Dieffenbacher said. "The Glass Art teachers were also very supportive and donated many beads as well."

Beads of Courage provides innovative, arts-in-medicine supportive care programs for children, their families and the health care providers who care for them. Their Beads of Courage Program is a resilience-based intervention that uses beads to commemorate milestones the children achieve throughout their unique treatment path, according to the Beads of Courage website.

"The students in all classes and in clubs responded with enthusiasm and compassion when Maddie presented the challenge of donating their beads to this cause," Glass Art teacher Monique Boyd said.

Dieffenbacher initially became involved with Beads of Courage years ago while searching for her bat mitzvah service project. Inspired by her love of crafting, she decided to participate in the organization's Siblings Program for a hands-on experience.

"Four years ago, I bought my first pack of polymer clay and began crafting clay beads for the Siblings Program, which takes glass or clay beads and distributes them to the siblings of children with a severe illness as they undergo a stressful time," she said. "These beads act as stress relievers and show that there are people who care about them."

More information about Beads of Courage can be found at