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Sewing in Support of Hospitalized Children: A Gold Girl Story

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Paraskevi “Vivi” Christopoulos of Knoxville wanted to help families through the difficult time of having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after her family experienced the same challenges. Vivi created handmade bags to give to families being supported through the Beads of Courage Program®. Her efforts resulted in her earning a 2022 Girl Scout Gold Award.       

Gold Award Girl Scouts are high schoolers who address issues they’re passionate about by planning and implementing a project that produces lasting change in the community and beyond. It is the Girl Scouts’ highest and most prestigious honor.

The bags Vivi created were a supplement to the Beads of Courage Program and distributed at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, along with small cards and social media pages to educate people about NICU and Beads of Courage.

“I learned about the need for Beads of Courage bags through the Volunteer Services Department at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital,” Vivi shares. “Because our family had experienced the emotional process of having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, I chose to focus on the NICU to assist families going through the trauma of having a newborn in the NICU.”   

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Vivi in the process of creating the bags.

According to the Beads of Courage website, the program is in more than 300 children’s hospitals worldwide. It is “designed to support and strengthen children and teens coping with serious illness and their families. Children tell their story using colorful beads that serve as meaningful symbols honoring their courage displayed along their unique treatment path.”

Families receive numerous beads during treatment and procedures, and Vivi’s sewn bags made from colorful fabric helped keep them contained while sharing a little bit of information about the mission of the program. Unfortunately, she missed the personal connection with families who received one of her bags due to the COVID-19 pandemic and limitations on hospital visitors. 

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Some of the completed bags.

Vivi describes herself as happy, loyal and competitive, and she enjoys spending time with children and her older sisters. Her favorite activities are reading and baking. Her fond Girl Scout memories include the snacks she enjoyed when she was a Daisy and selling Girl Scout Cookies.   

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Delivery of the Bead Bags to Children's Hospital.

Vivi currently is a senior at the Baylor School in Chattanooga. She started a wrestling team for girls at Baylor and hopes to develop another team when she gets to college. Vivi also wants to continue rowing. 

Congratulations, Vivi! Visit to learn more about the Girl Scouts. 

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The Baylor rowing team wore these special beads to participate in the Carry a Bead program, a branch of Beads of Courage.