Stepping Stones School in Hindhead, Surrey, hosted a two-week Breathe Magic camp for children with Hemiplegia this August. The innovative Breathe Magic camp (run by Breathe Arts Health Research), teaches children specially selected magic tricks which have therapeutic movements embedded into them, in order to improve their skills and dexterity in their weaker hand. Although the children are taking part in an intense therapeutic programme, they are motivated to learn the magic tricks and the focus is on having fun.

COINS Foundation Patron Jeremy Hunt visited the camp to see the children and watched them showing off their new skills. He said: “I was incredibly impressed by the miracles worked by this small social enterprise. They tap into the curiosity every child feels about magic to create extraordinary results for disabled children in terms of manual and physical dexterity”.

During the camp the nine participants, aged between 8 and 14 years of age, and most of whom were from the local area, learnt a range of magic tricks, as well as designed their own magical costumes and staged a final performance. After attending the camp, children can now perform everyday skills such as dressing or cutting up food by themselves for the first time in their lives. Participants attend a ‘refresher’ magic club for six months, to help sustain their skills and motivation.

Jack Cardwell, 9, from Hindhead, is one of the children who has benefited from the opportunity. Jack has right-sided Hemiplegia which affects the fine motor skills in his upper limb. His father, Will Cardwell, said: “Jack knew that the camp was designed around improving his motor skills but the focus was always about learning magic and having fun, rather than doing repetitive exercises. Thanks to the camp, Jack can now feed himself with his weaker hand – something he was unable to manage previously. Doing exercises at home is always a chore, but the magic tricks are something which Jack really enjoys doing. The magic doesn’t seem like therapy to the children; it’s actually giving them a talent which the other kids don’t have at school, and that makes a massive difference to their inner confidence.”

Breathe Arts Health Research is now planning to roll the programme out more widely across the country to help more children with Hemiplegia in the area. The Stepping Stones School camp was funded with support from COINS Foundation and parental contributions.