Stepping Stone Bead Team making bracelets for Special Olympic winter game athletes

LITTLETON, Colo. -- Most parents know about friendship bracelets. Your kids probably have one, maybe even made one.

A group of beaders in Jefferson County are hoping the friendship bracelets they are making right now are well traveled.

The Bead Team at Stepping Stone Resource Center in Jefferson County has been making patriotic bracelets since September. 

“We actually started with the USA flag and then we started going with the flag spelling USA,” beader Chris Swartwood told Denver7 contributor Hanna Atkinson. “One current bracelet takes approximately a day maybe. It depends on how good your beading skills are.”

The goal is to get more than 200 of the bracelets done to send with the Special Olympics USA athletes and coaches headed to the winter World Games in Austria in March.

“Lots of other countries will bring bracelets, lapel pins, t-shirts, hats and our athletes will be able to trade these bracelets for other things from other countries,” said Jenny Chase, who is part of the management team for the alpine skiing team and Special Olympics USA.

For this project, the team developed their own patterns to build the bracelets off of.  While they sometimes work alone, the often work in pairs, one lining up the rows of beads while the other strings them on the loom.

“It’s easier to have two people doing it instead of one,” beader Pricilla O’Brien explained while lining up beads for Chris.

Stepping Stone is a resource center that helps people with developmental disabilities develop job skills. In fact, the Bead Team is actually a co-op.

“Once you get going, you’re pretty much on the way to getting your own business in beading,” Chris said.

“When we started Stepping Stone, we wanted to have a productive program focusing on job skills,” executive director Bryn Galisewski explained.

Bryn says the patriotic bracelets being made by the Bead Team right now are just the team’s latest creations.

“They have all the Star Wars characters, Disney princesses, all the sports teams. They are for people who really enjoy sporting this style,” she said.

The team says they can’t wait to hand their work over to the athletes, and see how far their bracelets travel when they are traded to others at the World Games.

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