HomeWho Are WeOur StoriesMeet one of the sewers behind the Beads of Courage® bags
HomeWho Are WeOur StoriesMeet one of the sewers behind the Beads of Courage® bags

Meet one of the sewers behind the Beads of Courage® bags

Every child that participates in the Beads of Courage® programme receives a handmade bag to store their beads in when they first start the programme.

These bags are lovingly created by a network of keen sewers across the country. One of these sewers is Karen Looyer, who has made over 400 bead bags for tamariki with cancer in the past six years.

We spoke with Karen about the process of making bead bags and why she loves making them for tamariki with cancer. 

     1.What inspired you to start making Beads of Courage® bags for the children supported by Child Cancer Foundation?  

Our Inner Wheel Club were asked to make some Beads Bags, and after completion I decided it was something I would like to continue doing. We were supplied with one type of fabric, so I wanted to make it my mission to provide bags in a variety of fabrics and colours suitable for all ages.

We also had a close friend who was very sick at the time, and Kaye always talked of how she would ‘give back’ when her treatment was over. Sadly she never got the chance, so I felt I was giving back on her behalf.

     2. What does the process of making the bags involve?  

The bags are simple to make. They are lined, so the fun part is matching up the two fabrics for the outer and the lining. They also have a casing around the top for the draw cord. 

     3. How many bead bags do you provide to Child Cancer Foundation each year?

Initially I was making 40 – 50 per year, however that has increased to about 60 per year. 

I have just started my next batch which will make almost 400 bags since I started about six years ago, not that it is about numbers. I love working with fabric, and my goal is to provide a good range of bags suitable for all ages. 

    4.What is your favourite thing about making bead bags for children with cancer?  

As a sewer and quilter, I love working with fabric, but what gives me the most satisfaction is knowing I can do that one small thing to help the families on their cancer journey. 

I am a former enrolled nurse and phlebotomist plus a parent and besotted grandparent to two young grandsons, so I have some understanding of what the families go through. I am delighted to know I can do something. 


Karen very kindly purchases much of her own fabric to make bead bags at her own expense. If you would like to donate some fabric for Karen to use, please courier or drop it off to our Christchurch Family Place: 23 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch, 8013.

If you are interested in making some of these for the tamariki we support, please reach out and we can provide you with the necessary guidelines and Beads of Courage® labels. 

Email: marketing@childcancer.org.nz.