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.
Outliers: Volunteers bring a touch of abracadabra to sick kids
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 annual conference in 2005 and has plans to expand to other cities in the next two years.
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