NICU treasure beads mark milestones for tiny patients

Little Freyja may look tiny now, but she was half her weight when she was born at the end of August—11 weeks early at just two pounds, nine ounces and 14.5 inches. Freyja's mom, Veronica Salas Diaz, says those first weeks were a blur, but thanks to the treasure bead program at Covenant Health, Veronica now has a way to share her daughter’s birth story.

Little Freyja

“I think this is going to be very helpful because I know when she gets older, she’s going to be asking what happened to her when she was born, what we were doing. If you don’t have this you can’t remember,” says Veronica.

Veronica Salas Diaz holding her daughter's treasure bead necklace

The beads tell the story of each baby’s journey. Frejya started her treasure bead necklace with her name on it. During her hospital stay, beads were added by selecting charms that symbolized her journey to keep track of how far she had come. 

bead necklace

“The soother is for her first oral feed, a flower disc for kangaroo care. The rattle is when she gained a pound and the fish represents the time she had an infection,” says Veronica. 

Veronica and beads

The necklace not only offers a unique way to share each baby's story, but also a way for families going through something very similar to connect. About 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

“We encourage families to get their own beads so perhaps they can meet other parents collecting beads, and it’s a conversation piece for them,” says Chris Jacknisky, Clinical Nurse Educator at Grey Nuns Community Hospital.

Families have dozens of beads to choose from—and with the holidays just around the corner, moms and dads can expect to see the treasure bead holiday collection in December. As for Veronica, she’s hoping she can celebrate Christmas at home with little Freyja and her beads by her side. 

Freyja and Veronica

The bead program is run by the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Foundation and is offered to children in all Edmonton hospitals. For more information, visit

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