The Hospital Magicians in our Bedside Magic™ programs are not professional magicians. In fact, most of our volunteers don’t know magic when they first come to us. Our intensive 12-week Magic University training covers everything from how to perform magic to how to engage sick kids, all with the goal of transforming young patients back into laughing kids again.
Our Bedside Magic program and Magic University training certify that each Hospital Magician has the skills needed to be successful with patients; the knowledge of different protocols to work safely within the hospital environment; and the sensitivity to support kids at critical moments in their medical treatment. This outstanding preparation, along with the dedication of our thoroughly screened candidates, is what separates Open Heart Magic volunteers from all others.
Hospital Magicians see kids at difficult, sometimes extremely stressful times, such as when a family has just received bad news. That is why, besides learning how to engage kids through close-up magic, volunteers are also taught how to adapt to an unpredictable environment. Our intensive Magic University training sessions are held once a week in the evenings for 12 consecutive weeks. This hands-on training is designed to give volunteers the confidence they need to work successfully within the hospital environment. The training is structured to take individuals with no magic experience and turn them into confident entertainers who can engage even the most hard-to-reach child. This may be a child in pain, a child in the Burn Unit, or a child in isolation due to a suppressed immune system.
We prepare volunteers for working with kids and their families in difficult situations.
Covers how to meet and follow strict infection control guidelines and work safely with kids in protective, isolated environments.
Trains volunteers in close-up magic designed to engage young patients and their families; no previous magic experience is required.
Prepares volunteers for being able to adapt to all situations, something that’s critical in order to see every child in a hospital.
Teaches volunteers to engage not only young patients, but other people in the hospital room. Getting parents, siblings, and friends involved can aid in the child’s healing process.
Trains volunteers how to use magic therapeutically. When kids learn magic tricks they can perform for family members, friends and hospital staff, it helps them regain a sense of control, confidence and hope.
Prepares volunteers to think fast and react appropriately when unforeseen circumstances arise within the unpredictable hospital environment.
Being in a hospital room day-after-day can strip away what makes kids feel like kids. Our Hospital Magicians use magic interactively to engage kids who have often shut down emotionally. Magicians may use self-deprecating humor to make kids laugh and put them at ease. Learning to master magic tricks gives kids who often feel helpless, a greater sense of control. Magic University scripts out full interactions — from how to enter the hospital room to how to leave — and provides in-depth training so Hospital Magicians can adapt to each patient’s situation and handle any unexpected issues which arise. Bedside Magic has been in hospitals for over a decade, so our in-hospital experience – based on guidance and feedback from Child Life, social work and pediatric infection control staff – is second to none.
Hundreds of volunteers have excelled in our training program over the years, and hundreds of people apply each year. However, not everyone who applies is invited to attend Magic University and not everyone who attends our training, passes. Due to the unique skills required and the sensitive nature of working with sick kids, Open Heart Magic is diligent in selecting only the very best candidates to become Hospital Magicians. Our belief is that kids who are going through so much, deserve only the best we have to offer.
The goal of Magic University is to give volunteers the confidence to work with kids in any hospital situation. To that end, we provide volunteers with a full arsenal of magic and engagement techniques to connect with kids. Like learning a new language or musical instrument, magic is a skill that takes time and practice to master – until it becomes wondrous and second nature.
Those who become Hospital Magicians understand the importance of this work and enjoy tremendously rewarding experiences. Volunteers say the best part is the laughter and memories they get to share with young patients and their families – something all will remember for years to come.
Magic University was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done. Working with those kids made it all worth it. And now I’m forever the coolest person at the party.”
“The training is really meant to prepare new volunteers for the hospital. We throw a few curveballs at times but that can happen at a patient’s bedside, so it’s really all meant to prepare them for how to think and act.”