It started as a unique distraction during a difficult time.
Sarah Clifford had been diagnosed with melanoma in October 2008 at the age of 28.
While undergoing treatment in Christchurch in February 2010 Clifford was given an assortment of beads, wire and the tools for making jewellery.
It kept her mind occupied amongst everything else that was going on in her life.
It’s a simple idea that has since spread through the country. It is now having a positive impact on many people dealing with different challenges in life.
During Clifford’s 28 days of radiation treatment, she created and wore a different necklace each day. It not only provided distraction and fun but also created a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
The necklaces were later auctioned off and raised $3000. Some of the funds were put towards the start-up cost of the CanBead programme, which is run by the CanInspire Charitable Trust.
Just as Clifford found in 2010, many people suffering loss, trauma or illness are now having their spirits lifted through art therapy.
Invercargill is a shining example of that. It touches many parts of the Invercargill community after initially just working alongside the Cancer Society.
Seventeen agencies all up have now connected with Canbead in Invercargill.
They are the Cancer Society, Head Injury Society, Sweet Louise, Parent to Parent Southland, the Invercargill Loss and Grief Centre and Southland Help, Number 10, Able Minds, Stroke Foundation, Grandparents raising grandchildren, Alzheimers Society, MS Society, Red Cross, Still Mums, Southland Hospice, and the latest to join IHC.
For the next 12 months CanBead plans to hold 33 workshops in Invercargill, an increase from the 24 held over the past 12 months in the city.
The workshops are free of charge for all people experiencing illness, trauma or personal loss.
There are two Invercargill-based CanBead tutors. They arrange the kitbags, workshop materials and a team of volunteers to assist at each workshop.
A typical workshop takes two hours, during which time the tutor teaches basic jewellery and beading skills and each participant is able to make a necklace, bracelet, earrings, or legacy piece.
It’s all provided for free, and done so by the CanInspire Charitable Trust rustling up the required funds, tapping into volunteers, and getting a hold of donated material.
ILT is a key contributor in helping CanBead in its quest to provide the ever-growing number of workshops in Invercargill.
Rachael Allan sees first-hand what the distraction and sense of accomplishment can have on people living through difficult times.
Allan is the Southland co-ordinator for CanBead, she also doubles as the CanInspire Charitable Trust’s national funding manager.
She says it is a rewarding exercise watching people go about something new.
To have so many agencies involved in Invercargill meant CanBead was having a significant impact, Allan adds.
“It works really well because the clients and participants are working with organisations that they are already familiar with.
“It provides those clients with a couple of hours of distraction from what’s going on in life. But also, the satisfaction of creating something that they can either keep for themselves or give to someone else.
“It’s also a chance to connect with others going through a similar thing…. There’s multiple benefits.”