Cre­at­ing a lit­tle magic for sick kids,

Modern Healthcare - - MODERN HEALTHCARE -

Out­liers loves a good card trick, but for a young kid, even a sim­ple il­lu­sion is truly mes­mer­iz­ing. Open Heart Magic, a not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion based in Chicago, ar­ranges vis­its with chil­dren and teens in area hos­pi­tals to bring smiles to their faces dur­ing dif­fi­cult times.

Michael Wal­ton founded Open Heart Magic in 2004 af­ter vol­un­teer­ing at Rush Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal per­form­ing what he calls “bed­side magic,” do­ing tricks in the room with young pa­tients and hand­ing out magic wands. The or­ga­ni­za­tion has moved from his apart­ment to a do­nated of­fice space, us­ing about 40 vol­un­teer ma­gi­cians with plans to add 32 more this year.

“It is very com­mon to hear from (staff) that af­ter a ma­gi­cian worked with a child, it is the first time in a long time that kid has smiled,” Wal­ton says. “Feed­back is ap­pear­ing on pa­tient hospi­tal sur­veys. … They’re sit­ting up, they’re in­volved, smil­ing, laugh­ing. They com­pletely change.”

Wal­ton says that it is im­por­tant for his per­form­ers not only to show the chil­dren magic, but to let them learn it as well. “Hav­ing them choose a card or teach­ing them a trick is giv­ing them a sense of con­trol, all the things the hospi­tal is try­ing to do from a psy­cho-so­cial view to nor­mal­ize their en­vi­ron­ment.”

Open Heart Magic made an ap­pear­ance in Nashville at the Child Life Coun­cil’s an­nual con­fer­ence in 2005 and has plans to ex­pand to other cities in the next two years.

OPEN HEART MAGIC

Vol­un­teers from

Open Heart Magic use tricks to bring smiles to

ail­ing kids.

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