I want to spotlight one of the rare experiences in my life that created REAL magic. That would be PROJECT MAGIC, created by David Copperfield. What is PROJECT MAGIC? Simply put, it is a revolutionary concept that uses magic as a form of therapy to help people with disabilities – whether they are physical, psychological or social.
Many years ago, David had the opportunity to connect with one of his fans. From the handwriting in the letters he had received, David thought this fan was a young child. But in person he discovered that the fan was actually a twenty-something disabled man who was wheelchair-bound. But here’s the amazing part: David saw that through the practice and study of magic, this young man had an attitude that was far from feeling he was “disabled”. In fact, he could do tricks and fool non-disabled people… he wasn’t “handicapped” when he was performing magic. Quite the opposite, in fact.
It inspired in David a powerful idea. What if specially designed magic tricks were taught to people with disabilities for therapeutic gains? It would help patients on so many levels! Fired up with this concept, David connected with Julie DeJean, a professional occupational therapist at Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood, and they started creating the backbone of what would become this revolutionary program.
He also reached out to the magic community for volunteers – and this is where I got involved. Along with David, myself and a handful of conjurors went though tons of magic books and resources to discover tricks that would be appropriate. Then, by working with a team of occupational therapists, a program was created that consisted of simple magic tricks that were fun, but also helped develop motor skills, concentration and other therapy goals. The initial tests with patients had amazing results! I will never forget the expressions on those faces as a patient pulled off a magic trick – and fooled and entertained his audience!
All the hard work from the magicians and therapists paid off, because PROJECT MAGIC became formally endorsed by The American Occupational Therapy Association. Today nearly every state in the union has a chapter, and there are chapters in over 30 foreign countries.
So how does PROJECT MAGIC actually work? When a disabled person starts to practice a magic trick, they work on physical dexterity, problem solving and communication skills. And it’s also quite enjoyable! This is important, because patients must be motivated to work on their rehabilitation, and learning magic can be a very engaging experience. And as an incredible bonus, most patients – who can sometimes feel less capable than a non-disabled person – get an incredible boost of self-esteem, and a feeling of pride and accomplishment when they can do something a “normal” person cannot. David Copperfield’s vision has touched and improved thousands of lives… what an incredible achievement. Kudos to him, Julie and all the others who devoted countless hours to create this wonderful program.
Want to learn more, or even get involved? Go to www.projectmagic.org to discover this amazing creation and see how you can help. I’m telling you – you will be a part of creating REAL, life-transforming magic. It’s unforgettable.