Tag Archives: My Magic Hands

The Benevolence of Magic

4 Feb

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C. Dennis Shick’s article, “The Benevolence of Magic” –  in the December 2012 issue of The Linking Ring (Vol. 92, No. 12) –  talks about the altruistic capabilities of the magic community. Some notable organizations include the College of Magic in Capetown, South Africa where the school has developed a 6 year on-campus program that aims to teach students all aspects of magic.

It is refreshing to see the vast number of  initiatives from around the world that aspire to help their community through the art of magic – a  driving force behind our own arts organization, Magicana.

We were honoured that Magicana’s community outreach programs were also included in this article and would like to take this moment to clarify some of Magicana’s community outreach objectives:

Magic for Children – My Magic Hands

My Magic Hands uses the art of magic as a teaching vehicle to reach children in communities and help them build self-confidence and teach essential life skills such as communication, critical thinking and problem solving. We do this through a carefully constructed 8 week program that ends in a Big Show, where participants invite their families and friends to showcase what they have learned throughout the course. The show motivates our young participants to practise and perform at their very best, which in turn raises and bolsters their self-confidence and self-esteem. It becomes about what is possible.

My Magic Hands first started by focusing on children from the ages of 8 to 14. However, it has evolved to include even younger participants and in special programs, young adults 16 to 18 years old. For example, during last year’s special summer session called Helping Hands, Julie Eng, along with Holland Bloorview’s occupational therapists, led a modified constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) for clients with hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body) secondary to an acquired brain injury. Select activities, such as basic sleight-of-hand technique, were given to promote  the functional use of their hemiplegic arm and hand – with amazing results.

Magic for Seniors – Senior Sorcery

Senior Sorcery is Magicana’s community initiative to reach isolated seniors in the Greater Toronto Area by bringing live, theatrical magic shows to retirement residences and community centres.

Last year, we performed over 50 shows in residences and centres around the GTA. The types of shows we do include:

a)  Hocus Pocus: an interactive, parlour-type magic show which removes the traditional “fourth wall” of theatre; and

b) Strolling Sorcery: an intimate magic performance where a professional magician  gives several shorter, personalized shows to smaller groups one after the other; and

c) Dynamic Duo: a combination of both show types.

Championing Youth In Magic – Tony Eng Youth Fund

In 2008, Magicana created the Tony Eng Youth Fund program in memory of Tony Eng (1946 – 2008).

Its main goal and purpose is to promote and support youths as they pursue the art of magic. Although the program started by providing bursaries to aspiring, young magicians to help them attend the CAM (Canadian Association of Magicians) convention, it has since evolved to include other conventions and lectures, such as Magi-Fest 2013, to  provide opportunities for valuable mentor relationships; and, to inspire, motivate and support youth in magic.

We are very proud of these community initiatives and applaud all the other programs that were mentioned in The Linking Ring as part of “The Benevolence of Magic” article. Thank you to The Linking Ring for sharing all of our work and for showcasing the power of possibility through the art of magic.

A Year in Review

20 Dec

This year definitely passed us quickly, but not with inactivity! We still have a couple of secret projects up our sleeves, but for now, let’s take a look at the magical happenings of 2012.

My Magic Hands

Our little magicians were busy this year, as we reached a total number of 14 sessions for our My Magic Hands program. We reached a total of 252 kids through the combined efforts of our Magicana staff and 59 volunteers.

This year we partnered up with Valleyfield, Howlett Academy, Holland Bloorview Kid’s Rehabilitation Hospital, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Toronto and Camp Oochigeas. Together, we delivered fun and educational sessions and workshops that used magic as a teaching vehicle to build confidence and self-esteem while developing creative problem-solving and public speaking skills. Each session challenges our students to perform at their Big Show, and this year, we performed in front of over 500 audience members!

Over the summer, we conducted two workshops in partnership with the Leacock Foundation for Children’s reading program, LEAP. We had a great time working with students from Rose Avenue, First Nations Public School and Derrydown Elementary School. We also had a successful run with our two special summer programs for Holland Bloorview’s Child Development Programs: Helping Hands and Hand 2 Hand for children affected with cerebral palsy and other challenges in the brain injury rehabilitation therapy program.

Our program’s focus on performance art helps strengthen each client’s less dominant hand throughout the camp. It was incredibly rewarding to see their hard work and progression in this accelerated summer session. We congratulate all our magicians and their ‘magic coaches’ for such an outstanding job!

Senior Sorcery

This year, we a hit a record of 52 Senior Sorcery shows for senior centres and residences. Magicana subsidizes these shows for centres under budgetary constraints to ensure that magic can be shared throughout the Greater Toronto Area and beyond! Performers went to St. Catherines, Barrie and even in the beautiful banks of Big Rideau Lake to perform a show!

We hope we created memorable feats of magic and excitement for seniors and residents and look forward to bringing magic to new centres in the new year.

Tony Eng Youth Fund

We are delighted to report that the Tony Eng Youth Fund was able to provide bursary awards this year. First, we granted Sawyer Bullock an award to attend the CAM convention (Canadian Association of Magicians) in Hamilton Ontario back in April.

We also funded the very first Tong Eng Memorial Lecture for the 2012 Tri-City 3 of Clubs Convention organized by members of Ring 183 – Tony’s hometown Ring in Victoria, BC – who arranged to have Joe Monti deliver a special 2 hour lecture for the convention. By all accounts – and in particular by talent coordinators, Murray Hatfield and Eric Bedard – Joe’s lecture was refreshing, funny and very-well received. We are thrilled to have had an opportunity to participate and congratulate Ring 183 on a great job.

We are also reviewing submissions we received for Magi-Fest Youth Scholarship 2013. Final decisions will be announced after the holidays.

Luminato 6

For our third year of bringing magic to Luminato, we presented the Mind Over Matter magic series bringing three master magicians – Banachek, Richard Turner and Juan Esteban Varela – to Toronto.

All three, in their own unique presentations, addressed how magic is essentially delivered and perceived through the power of the mind. Needless to say, each magician “blew minds” away and we were delighted with the series.

Magic Collectors Weekend

In May, we hosted the 43rd Annual Collectors Weekend in Chicago where we honoured guests, James Hagy and Richard Kaufman. It was a jam-packed weekend of lectures, talks, and reflection.

With the advent of more and more magic history conferences being organized, we have opted to move to a biennial format with our next Magic Collectors Weekend slated for 2014.

Magicol

We had rave reviews come in from our two Magicol, A Journal of Magic History and Collectibles, issues this year: No. 182 “Alma” (the special Australian magic edition) and No. 183 “Joy of Posters” (our Poster Issue).

While we are a little behind, rest assured we have our forthcoming two issues queued up, so keep your eyes peeled for the latest news!

New Websites

And last but not the least, we have been very busy re-launching new websites to accomodate our growing membership and evolving programs. Please feel free to explore our new homes in the cyberspace. We always appreciate any feedback you can give us.

  • Mystery & History: the new site for the latest Magicol news and updates.
  • Tony Eng Youth Fund: the one stop hot spot for young magicians to see what opportunities and bursaries are available in their area.
  • Senior Sorcery: Now with its own blog! See what’s new in senior health and read up on reviews we’ve been getting from pleased centres and residences.

… And thanks to you!

We would like to take this moment to thank our donors and sponsors whose generous funding allows us to provide service to our local neighbourhood and the magic community at large. Without your support, none of this would be possible.

So, as it has been such a magical year, we are now taking a little break for the holiday season. Our office will be closed December 24 and reopen on January 2.

Winter Wonders, The Graduates of My Magic Hands Winter Sessions

10 Dec

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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! 

We are very proud of our students who raised their game and pressed themselves to become great performers for their “Big Show”.

As Julie Eng enthusiastically notes:

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!

– Julie Eng, Executive Director / Lead Instructor

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

24 Aug

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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.

The Wonder Behind the Magic

1 Aug

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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!

Magic Healing at Holland Bloorview

13 Jul

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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.

Richard Turner drives us Batty!

10 Jul

We would like to send our heartfelt thanks to the dazzling “card cheat”, Richard Turner, who generously donated his puzzle game “Batty” to our community outreach program, My Magic Hands, the children at Holland Bloorview and to the Toronto Public Library during his recent visit to Toronto for the sixth Luminato festival.

Batty is not only dangerously addictive, it is also sure to enhance brain activity while playing. It’s a game that can be played by a second grader, but can also drive a statistician mad with its varying levels of difficulty. Richard explains that this is a great logical thinking game that increases and promotes essential life skills.

What’s great is that Richard has also shared ways to play it in individually or in teams, which is perfect for our mentorship programs and volunteering partners. It’s a fun but challenging game that changes all every time, bringing out the magic in each of its players.

Thank you Richard, for giving us another way of sharing wonder.

For more information about this game or to play Batty, visit  this site: www.battygame.com

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