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




Spring Magic at the Holland Bloorview


We just wrapped up another successful My Magic Hands session at Holland Bloorview Kids Hospital and we could not have done it without the extraordinary dedication of Holland Bloorview staff and volunteers.

A major factor to client success is the incredible individual attention participants receive from our “magic coaches” – aka staff and volunteers. Through focused coaching, participants learn the importance of having a mentor while they learn magic tricks customized to meet their goals. Coaches become the voice of encouragement that is essential in developing their self-confidence and self-esteem – two “must-haves” for the Big Show.

For our last group, what a Big Show it was!

Family members and other hospital staff gathered to watch our magicians perform their magic learned throughout the session. The Big Show was a chance for our participants to shine and show hard work truly does pay off. We are very proud of our graduates and congratulate everyone.

We are so grateful for the enthusiasm, time and effort our volunteers, Aneesha Nair and Aletheia Chiang, have given so selflessly into our program along with the amazing staff of Occupational, Speech and Physical Therapists who made sure our magicians were well rehearsed and prepared. We look forward to working with this team again on our next session and wish them the best of luck on their future endeavours.

Magic Library


Magic Library


A magic library is just what every home needs! So, we have made a donation of nearly 40 magic books to our long-time partner, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation HospitalThe books come courtesy of private individuals who have kindly made donations to Magicana over the years, and we are thrilled that they are now being housed in such a great facility.

As we enter our tenth year bringing My Magic Hands to the clients at Holland Bloorview, we have discovered many  young, budding magicians along the way. So to fully support their interest in this new potential hobby, we wanted to extend the gift of magic by way of this library. Speaking with the hospital’s and school’s librarian, Shelley Neal, we are pleased to hear that the books have been earmarked for a “Magic Nook” where students can study, research and simiply absorb all things magic.

Some of the donated titles include, “Mark Wilson’s Greatest Close-up Magic Tricks”, “The Magic Book” by Harry Lorayne”, “Walter Gibson’s Big Book of Magic For all Ages”, “The Magic Book” by Karl Fulves, “Dunninger’s Monument to Magic”, “The Great Houdini” by Beryl Williams and Samuel Epstein, “The Master Magicians” by Walter Gibson, “The Stein and Day Handbook of Magic” by Marvin Kaye and many more.

We hope the all our students enjoy and learn from their magic library as much as we have enjoyed sharing the wonder of magic.