Make a Difference, Volunteer!

 

Volunteering is an extremely rewarding and enriching experience. It’s an excellent way to further a cause, enhance and apply new skills and meet people. Most importantly, it can make a major difference in your community and in the world.

Our My Magic Hands children’s program has employed several outstanding magic coaches (aka volunteers) in our program at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Hospital. For over nine years, it is always touching to see how many people stand up and make a difference in the lives of our young participants. But don’t take our word for it, see what a real-live magic coach thought about volunteering at the hospital here.

Just do it!

If you’re looking to gain experience volunteering in a client-based program, helping kids with special needs participate in activities to the best of their ability such as My Magic Hands, Holland Bloorview is looking for volunteers to make a difference in a child’s life. They have opportunities for mornings, afternoons and evenings 7 days a week for applicants 17 years of age and older.

For more information, please visit http://www.hollandbloorview.ca/volunteer/.

My Magic Hands Celebrates 9 years at Holland Bloorview!

It is hard to believe that  My Magic Hands was originally launched nearly a decade ago.

Magicana applied for funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation(OTF) to develop a pilot program version of  “Magic Hands”.  In 2004, the program was designed and tested during the year in four different at-risk communities around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), including Canada’s top children’s rehabilitation hospital, now known as Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. The response to the pilot program was excellent and Trillium agreed. Magicana was then awarded a multi-year grant to expand  My Magic Hands program (and, to simultaneously develop Senior Sorcery – a program designed specifically for the senior population). My Magic Hands continued to evolved and developed through funding from private foundations and donors. Today, this program is funded solely by the Slaight Family Foundation.

All the way, My Magic Hands has been working side-by-side with Holland Bloorview, specifically in occupational therapy and speech therapy programs. The magic program is recognized and acknowledged by occupational therapists, staff and parents of clients as a unique, successful and motivating tool assisting clients to reach their therapeutic goals. Session after session, we are continuously motivated – and inspired – by the hard work our participants give to the program. It’s all about The Big Show where the children really do become magicians as they stage and star in their own production. The show never fails to marvel – never a dry eye in the house!

It’s hard to believe that we just wrapped up our 2013 summer session at Holland Bloorview marking our ninth year at the hospital!

None of this would have been possible without dedicated volunteers and hard-working staff from Holland Bloorview. The program only works because of the one-on-one attention volunteers give each client.  The communal effort between Magicana and the Holland Bloorview team is what makes our program so unique and so special.

We hope that our collaboration continues to evolve and we look forward to resuming our sessions with the hospital later this fall.

Congratulations to our latest graduates! May the magic continue in your magic hands!

 

 

Summer of Helping Hands

For the past few weeks, lead by magicienne Julie Eng, we made one of our favourite stops to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab to bring some magic to the Helping Hands program.

Helping Hands is a modified constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) for clients with hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body) secondary to an acquired brain injury or stroke. Participants are required to wear a splint or cast on their non-affected hand. Activities that encourage the functional use of their hemiplegic arm, such as magic, help participants in their physical therapy.

Helping Hands aims to promote the use of each participant’s affected upper extremity through individually selected activities targeting specific movements and upper extremity function. This is where magic plays a vital part: while it challenges participants to use their hemiplegic side, it also provides them with a goal and feelings of accomplishment after performing a magical feat that warrants instant feedback, such as an audience applauding a performance.

Magic truly has a versatile effect to those who practice it, and we watched it all spring to life in our Helping Hands participants. Some of our “magicians” in this session were past participants, allowing us to dig deep into our bag of tricks and to come up with new challenges for them. We were able to further empower magicians by asking them to also to coach one another.

By the end of the session, we saw that magic built confidence, promoted control and discipline, and created great satisfaction in each magician’s individual and group accomplishments.

We hope the wonders of magic continue with each of our graduates, and may it be shared to other members of our community!

Thank you to the ever-amazing team of dedicated staff and volunteers at Holland Bloorview. It takes one-to-one support to make this sort of program successful. We are so lucky to have so many stellar coaches regularly at our sessions. Thank you, Team! It was a great one!

Coaching Kids into Life and Magic

 

Getting a new perspective on how our workshop affects lives inspires us to continue evolving My Magic Hands so that it can reach and benefit those who need it the most. We believe our workshop is therapeutic not only to its participants but to our volunteers as well. My Magic Hands gives magic coaches a sense of purpose and community: they have become part of great change in the lives of others, and have become crucial to their growth and development. In addition to this, My Magic Hands is an effective starting point to those who want to enter the rewarding career of Occupational Therapy, or health studies.

With mutual benefit stemming from both sides of our program, we are pleased to see the ripples of effect our program has started. We hope Aneesha’s testimonial, another committed volunteer from our past session at Holland Bloorview, will encourage our readers to volunteer and support My Magic Hands.

Aneesha states:

“Magic is, believing in yourself.  If you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

These words by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe echo when I look back on the wonderful weeks at Magicana’s workshop and one-on-one sessions.

After the ‘My Magic Hands’ workshop at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital ended in March, our team of ‘magic coaches’ embarked on yet another journey, of one-on-one magic sessions, in April. With the leadership of Julie Eng, our multi-faceted magic instructor and Salma Kassam, our exceptional occupational therapist, we ventured into comfortable zones of therapy, to help the kids develop their magic skills, with the intention of developing their fine motor, speech and cognitive skills. Therapy, usually described as ‘boring’ by the kids, became fun and exciting.

During the one-on-one sessions, while the kids were thrilled about the magic tricks, our team focused on trying to achieve individual goals, as well as improve their sense of social interactions and growth. The team leaders, working in unison, aim to unlock each child’s true potential and help them create a future of possibilities. Each session comprised of working on one or two magic tricks with practise and attention to detail. Every one-on-one session ended with a little magic performance that allowed the participants to showcase their developed skills. Witnessing the transformation of a child (who in normal circumstances would shy away from displaying his abilities) into a confident performer was remarkable.

When I first joined the program I did not know what to expect. But after the completion of these sessions I have come to experience senses beyond description. Laughter, mischief, innocence, friendships all became important elements in every session.  With our team leaders, other members of the hospital’s staff and Aletheia,  a wonderful co-volunteer (and friend), I truly had a remarkable experience and wonderful memories to look back on. Thank you. I look forward to future interactions with Magicana and their work. I started this testimonial with a quote and would like to end with one too.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting, for our senses to grow sharper”- W. B. Yeats

 

 

 

Winter Wonders, The Graduates of My Magic Hands Winter Sessions

Congratulations to the graduates from our latest My Magic Hands fall session at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab.

My Magic Hands program develops each participant’s interpersonal skills: they learn how to interact with others, express ideas, team-build and speak in public. From day one, each child performs for the group. As they struggle with the challenges of performing – nervousness, shyness or difficulty in mastering a trick – they also learn to support and encourage each other. The struggle teaches the importance of listening, practice and preparation.

And so, with the help of our amazing volunteers, lead instructors and the wonderful staff from Holland Bloorview, we get to see each participant face the challenge of producing their own Big Show for their parents and friends and the satisfaction and confidence they derive when they see the results of their hard work executed! 

 

As Julie Eng states:

Thank you to all our magicians, our volutneers, our staff / team of Magicana and Holland Bloorview players who all came together to see these kids shine at the December6, 2012 show. There is absolutely nothing more satisfying that seeing our students blossom on their own at their production of A Big Show. I am incredibly proud of these amazing kids and the entire team that helped them along their magical journey! HUGE thanks to Greg Vanden Kroonenberg from AV to bring our show together; and to Brittany Boudreau for taking all these photos for us!

We hope the magic and wonder continues to grow within our graduates, so that they can share it to the community as well!

Summer Wrap Up for My Magic Hands at Bloorview

We just finished yet another round of My Magic Hands at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation and we are proud to say, that as always, it was an amazing experience for both our instructors, volunteers and participants!

We had a particularly big and lively group this time round, the last group before summer ends. We are so proud of our junior magicians and of their magic coaches as  they carried out their performances for The Big Show. The hard work and dedication each participant contributed, clearly showed in the delivery of their magic tricks and scripts, along with the help and generosity that their magic coaches graciously gave them.

This wraps up our ninth year of summer sessions at Holland Bloorview–and we’re proud  to say, that we had a great and unforgettable summer learning and teaching magic and wonder, and look forward to our fall session.

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The Wonder Behind the Magic

We like to view My Magic Hands as a communal effort, for the successful delivery of each session – especially at Holland Bloorview where the program’s fulfillment depends on the generosity of our sponsors and the dedication of  volunteers, therapists and participants.

As we’ve come to learn over the years, the beauty of magic lies in its flexibility and versatility. Since partnering with Holland Bloorview, we have observed how magic affects young adults in many ways. It has helped them regain confidence, become more vibrant, and practice control and discipline in order to perform their tricks effortlessly and with the confidence of a performer.  A thriving example of the benefits our workshops reap is the Helping Hands camp we have facilitated over the past three  summers.

What makes this program unique is that it is a modified constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) for clients with hemiplegia (paralysis
on one side of the body) secondary to an acquired brain injury or stroke. Participants are required to wear a splint or cast on their non-affected hand. They then engage in activities that promote the functional use of their hemiplegic arm and hand – such as magic!

Helping Hands aims to promote the use of each participant’s affected upper extremity through individually selected activities targeting specific movements and upper extremity function. Magic becomes a great tool as it can simultaneously challenge students to use their hemiplegic side while achieving the thrill of “getting” the magic trick to work. It can be a slow and laborious effort for the clients to try and hit each of the meticulous movements with their less dominant hand–but they do so because of the greater goal to “get” the trick. For an instructor, it can bring tears to one’s eyes!
The program is run by an interdisciplinary team of staff (occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, physiotherapists and social workers) and volunteers. Magicana is brought in to provide the magic component inside the existing frame work of the camp and leads the lesson in magic. What is wonderful is the near one-to-one support that each client receives at Holland Bloorview. We refer to the staff and volunteers present as the client’s ‘magic coach’ which shifts their perspective on the entire experience. Needless to say, it is a very heartwarming experience to see success in the smiles of both our clients and their magic coach.

Helping Hands is truly a program that requires group effort, and we would not have been able to deliver as efficiently as we did if it wasn’t for our magic coaches, our dedicated volunteers who generously donated so much of their time and hard work. Thank you to the recent round of volunteers / magic coaches who volunteered their time to be with these amazing clients: Sinthia, Maggie, Nicholas, Sarah and Pinky – the true wonders behind the magic!

We hope the therapeutic advantages of magic continue with each of our graduates, and may wonder be shared to other members of our community!

 

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Magic Healing at Holland Bloorview

It’s a busy summer for My Magic Hands!

We currently have two specially focused sessions with Holland Bloorview called, Helping Hands and Hand 2 Hand.

These summer programs focus on strengthening the client’s less dominant hand by restraining the dominant hand, on and off throughout the camp. Naturally in this conditions, magic becomes increasingly difficult to perform – especially when clients naturally want to use their dominant hand for fine motor tasks, such as shuffling a deck of cards.

However, the staff and volunteers in the sessions act as magic coaches for the students (magicians) and encourage magicians and assist them on a one-to-one basis, providing children a nurturing and positive experience. It is incredibly rewarding to see progression emanating from our current participants in this accelerated summer session. We congratulate magicians and their ‘magic coaches’ for such an outstanding job!

Thanks to the generous donors and sponsors of our My Magic Hands program, we can continue making a difference in our community and keep in our pursuit in sharing wonder.

Congratulations to our new graduates at Holland Bloorview!

Congratulations to the latest group of graduates of My Magic Hands hosted at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

Our first class started on March 27 led by magicians, Julie Eng and James Alan, and their Big Show on April 12, after only 6 sessions, was a HUGE SUCCESS!

We had a wide range of participants in this session, a GREAT group, who all seemed to enjoy the learning process. It is always touching to see young faces light up when they learn the secrets of how to perfect a magic trick, and to help them realize that they are capable of doing more than what they thought they could do.

We hope our participants continue to explore the magical world and to enjoy every step of their journey !

Making a Difference

Congratulations to My Magic Hands students at Valleyfield Junior Public School – led by instructor James Alan – who were featured on Global TV’s Making A Difference segment today.

We are so proud to have had so many individuals involved in our performing arts program, and for so many to have come away with new and important life skills including problem solving, critical thinking and logistical planning. Since the program’s inception in 2004, we have run 94 sessions in different centres throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) engaging 1,670 participants584 volunteers and interacting with 5,695 community members. The program continues today thanks to the generous support of our title sponsor, Slaight Communications.

Global TV’s Susan Hay stopped by to visit the Grade 4/5 class of 23 students at Valleyfield Junior Public School to see how these kids were doing. The news crew caught the children in their third of eight classes where they showcased a few of their new magic tricks, and spent a great deal of the lesson learning more.

We are looking forward to seeing these young people in their eight and final week where they will perform the Big Show for their classmates at school.

Keep up the great work Valleyfield – and thank you Global TV and Susan Hay for sharing wonder!