When children and their family members come to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley‘s Outpatient Registration Department, it’s likely their visit involves a treatment, test or a procedure. Some of them find it tough to be brave.
Amanda Crago, Outpatient Registration volunteer, is making it easier for them to cope by making and giving out beaded bracelets with special messages.
“I’ve been in the hospital as a kid,” said Crago, who volunteers with Outpatient Registration 3 days a week. “I can relate to their experiences. There were times when I was afraid or anxious.”
Three months ago, Crago began making the bracelets, which incorporate colors, characters and themes from popular movies, as well as inspirational messages. She sometimes intermingles colored beads with designs, such as stars and hearts, and lettered beads. For instance, she will use colors from the movie “Frozen” or TV series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and might add an “R” for Raphael, one of the ninja turtles. Other times, she’ll come up with ideas based on the book “101 Ways to Praise a Child.”
During her shift, she can be seen busy at work making the bracelets. The children notice it too.
“Most of the time, I try to catch the kids as they’re coming in so I can ask them if they want a bracelet,” Crago said. “Other times, they stop at the table to play and see what I’m doing and then come over. Usually, I have several different kinds of bracelets made up and ready to hand out, but if they ask for one that I don’t have, I tell them I’ll make it for them so it’s ready for them when they leave.”
Some of Crago’s bracelets possess special powers, at least for certain children.
“If they’re super scared, I tell them we’ll use my ‘magic spray’ and to pick one of the magic-no-hurt bracelets,” Crago said. “Of course, that only works for the little kids.”
The bracelet making began when the Volunteer Department gave its leftover beads to Outpatient Registration because they were too small to hand out to the children to play with individually. They’ve been perfect to fashion into jewelry on stretchy elastic thread, however. Crago even figured out the exact number of beads needed so the bracelets fit a child’s wrist.
The children’s reactions say it all: Their eyes light up and they walk away smiling and happy.
“Someone from our cafeteria said his child still wears one of the bracelets, and that was one I made several months ago,” she said.