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    With virtual Magic Camp, UAB Occupational Therapy students work healing magic for children with disabilities

    Learning and performing magic tricks has been shown to benefit children and adults with disabilities. UAB’s annual Magic Camp is free and open to children ages 9-18 diagnosed with a disability.

    VirutalMC2A free, annual Magic Camp designed for children ages 9-18 with disabilities at the University of Alabama at Birmingham will be held virtually via Zoom this summer.  

    In two, four-week camp sessions, children will learn two or three magic tricks every Monday and be part of a group meeting each Friday so campers can get to know each other. The end of each camp will feature a streamed magic show performance for friends and family. 

    The camp is taught by UAB Occupational Therapy students trained in the protocol developed by illusionist and educator Kevin Spencer, an international authority on the therapeutic use of magic tricks in physical and psycho-social rehabilitation.

    Learning and performing magic tricks has been shown to benefit children and adults with disabilities. The approach has shown to be an effective treatment technique as it promotes motivation and improves physical, psychological, perceptual or social functions in those who participate. 

    UAB Magic Camp is part of a collaboration between the UAB School of Health ProfessionsDepartment of Occupational Therapy, Children’s of Alabama, Hocus Focus™ and the UAB Institute for Arts in Medicine. AIM, through a collaboration with UAB Medicine and the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, focuses on the needs of the whole person — mind, body and spirit — and it includes both interactive and passive arts experiences, which can include bedside and workshop activities, or performances and visual art installations in public spaces. 

    “The lessons, the camp and the show are unforgettable highlights in our occupational therapy students’ journey that we would love to share with you and your family,” said Gavin Jenkins, Ph.D., OTR/L, associate professor and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy. “We are so excited to make camp virtual and welcome participants from all over the United States.”

    Magic Camp 1 will be June 1-26, and Camp 2 will be July 6-31, on Mondays and Fridays for one hour. Each camper will be paired with two OT students for the duration of the camp. Camp is free and open to children ages 9-18 who have been diagnosed with a disability. Anyone who is interested can contact Lauren Edwards at laurenme@uab.edu. Limited spots are available.

    Spencer, an award-winning performing artist who toured the world for more than 25 years, created Hocus Focus™ to support the learning of students, with varying degrees of challenges and abilities, through the art of magic. He brings his magic to UAB OT Magic Camp every year through UAB’s artist-in-residence fellowship program.

    Each year during his residency at UAB, Spencer works with UAB OT students and gives them their own bag of tricks — complete with magical props like ropes and wands — and then he shows them how to perform some basic magic. However, the real trick is that the students are learning more than magic: They are learning to direct their clients’ rehabilitation in three key areas: dexterity, motivation and socialization.

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