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Open Heart Magic

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Services, Personal Social Services

Mission: The mission of open heart magic is to use the therapeutic power of magic and laughter to energize and strengthen seriously ill children in chicago, ann arbor and cleveland area hospitals, and aid their healing. Being hospitalized can be frightening for anyone, but especially for a critically ill child. As kids undergo difficult or painful treatments - surrounded by strangers - they can become overwhelmed with fear and sadness. Our bedside magic programs bring laughter, hope and strength to sick children - one-to-one - at their hospital bedsides. Our volunteer hospital magicians are trained to work with all kids in a hospital - regardless of medical conditions or physical abilities - so that every child can benefit from this entertaining and empowering therapy.

Programs: Our personalized interactions help children feel special, more confident and empowered during a scary and stressful time. By inviting them to be a part of the interaction, we energize kids and help them find the strength they need to heal. Our hospital magicians offer more than just "a show". They work one-on-one with children, using magic as a means to encourage participation, engage the imagination, and help these kids find their own sense of confidence and mastery as they learn to perform the tricks for their doctors, family and friends. The powerful effects of their laughter speak for themselves. Because our bedside magic performances are personalized and interactive, we're able to work with kids of all ages, regardless of physical or developmental restrictions. We offer support to kids who are in a one-time er visit, as well as patients undergoing long-term treatment for conditions such as pediatric cancer, childhood diabetes, heart problems, and pediatric heart transplants. Our performances also benefit the parents and siblings of these patients, who are experiencing the stress and uncertainty that illness brings as well. Open heart magic actively serves children in hospitals throughout chicagoland, ann arbor, and cleveland. For kids undergoing medical treatment, magic has therapeutic value. According to research in education, social work and psychology: magic is a beneficial tool for gaining trust, decreasing tension, and establishing rapport when working with children and adolescents; magic enhances patients' cognitive functions, perception, neuromuscular and motivational skills; magic is an innovative technique for reaching children who are scared, isolated and resistant to other forms of therapy; magic is a means for utilizing the powerful benefits of humor and laughter both for the young patients and also their siblings and families who are undergoing the most stressful moments of their lives. In 2017, open heart magic's 142 certified volunteer children's hospital magicians reached 12,000 total patients one-on-one at their hospital bedsides in 12 partner hospitals in illinois, ohio and michigan.

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Before I tell you about the organization I have been involved with for many years, I want to first share my #GivingTuesday experience. It was a bit spontaneous, but I decided to give a little bit to a number of smaller, local groups, throughout the day. A number of my friends have devoted themselves to a range of causes and, in addition to a donation, I put in a plug on Facebook for the volunteering they do. Some work to empower women through the fight for reproductive justice while another friend started Swing for Kids as a way to introduce kids to swing dancing. Even though they eventually kicked me out, I wouldn't be who I am or where I am today without the experiences provided to me by the Illinois State University Honors Program. Felines and Canines is a small, local, animal rescue that saved our dog Grace from a kill shelter in Kentucky. An extra donation could be enough to help them rescue just one more lucky kitty or pooch so they too can be spoiled rotten. My friend Bobby is always promoting CHIRP, a local non-profit radio station where he DJs. Helping them build an actual radio antenna is pretty neat. I ended the day with a donation to my neighborhood food pantry. Common Pantry is the oldest continuously operating food pantry in Chicago. They're certainly not going to turn away canned good donations, but they can always do more with cash.
While I regularly promote the organizations I volunteer with, it was nice to focus on some great organizations my friends are just as passionate about. Thank you to #GivingTuesday for planting a seed for a very fulfilling idea!

Every two weeks I visit the hospital. Not because I'm sick, but because sick kids need a bit of magic. A little moment in their day that empowers them to get through treatments, operations, and procedures they have no control over. That's exactly what Open Heart Magic delivers. For six years I've been a volunteer hospital magician. Over that time, I've performed magic for hundreds of kids in four Chicago hospitals, and the opportunity to do so repeatedly provides some of the most memorable experiences of my life. Being given the privilege to perform for a child and their family during some of their most vulnerable moments is extremely humbling, and not something I take for granted.

I can't share many of the details of those experiences with you for privacy reasons, but I can share with you my experience with Magic U, our intense 12-week course for all volunteer candidates. I remember stressing out far more for the final evaluation than my full time job, or my grad school exams that were happening that same week. As a trainer in Magic U for many years now, I've heard similar comments from almost every new volunteer. In the most recent session, ending just a couple weeks ago, I even heard of some people planning weekend study sessions. The bar is certainly high, and not everyone makes it through, but we can be confident that those that do make it are going to do an amazing job empowering kids when they need it the most. I'm so honored to volunteer side by side with them and take part in the important mission of Open Heart Magic.

Review from #MyGivingStory