Small beads fuel big dreams


Rural life in Kenya is filled with many challenges, but thanks to some very well-traveled beads, girls in a faraway Kenyan village now have hope.

Education is often expensive, and for girls in particular it is considered a luxury, explained Willow Creek Elementary School teacher Lisa Heaton. She traveled last summer to Enoosaen, a small community outside Nairobi.

While she was there, she visited the Kakenya School of Excellence, a primary boarding school focused on serving underprivileged Maasai girls.

Heaton was touched by the girls’ genuine enthusiasm for life. “They knew that education was a true gift; something we often forget here in the States, and I wanted to bring that global experience back to my students.”

So Heaton partnered with Seeds to Sew, a New Jersey-based organization founded by a retired Cherry Creek School District educator, Janice Ito, and her daughter, Ellyn. Heaton’s students launched a school-wide bead drive.

Collecting thousands of tiny colorful seed beads, each slightly larger than a standard pinhead, Heaton and colleague Peg Link sent the beads more than 8,600 miles back to Kenya, where women and girls from the village school crafted hundreds of bracelets.

The beads, now attached to woven black leather bands, have returned to Willow Creek Elementary and will be sold by students.

The bracelet sale takes place before and after school, May 21-23.

Bracelets are priced at $4 each or three for $10.

“The kids are just so excited to connect with the girls in Kenya,” said Link.

So excited, in fact, the students have become pen pals.

“We’ve sent letters and photos and in return, they’ve sent us photos with our photos,” added Heaton. “It’s just a really neat way to create global awareness in the classroom.”

Heaton added that money from the sale of the bracelets will help buy books and school supplies for the Kenyan girls.


Student bracelet sale

Benefits the Kakenya School of Excellence, Kenya

May 21-23, 8:30 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 4 p.m.

Willow Creek Elementary

7855 S. Willow Way




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