Open Heart Magic has pioneered an innovative way to reach sick children at their hospital bedsides through the surprise, excitement and wonder of magic.

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Through our two core programs, Open Heart Magic empowers kids in hospitals by renewing their sense of confidence and engaging their imagination and excitement.

Bedside Magic

Through Bedside Magic, our volunteer magicians visit kids in the hospital and engage them with interactive magic performances. A trick isn’t just a trick — 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. it’s an opportunity to engage a child who may feel lonely, isolated and afraid. In each one-on-one interaction, the kids assist with the magic, and even learn how to perform magic on their own. The result is a fully immersive, therapeutic interaction that bolsters the child’s sense of control and mastery, and supports the healing process. We constantly hear from kids, family and staff about the positive effect of Bedside Magic. Read their stories.

Some of the kids we serve are with us for just a short ER visit. Others are undergoing longer-term treatment for conditions, such as pediatric cancer, childhood diabetes, heart problems, and pediatric heart transplants. Either way, kids can receive Bedside Magic for as long as they’re in the hospital. Every magic performance not only touches these children, but their families as well. The lasting effect of each visit has an amazing dual power: providing a welcome diversion for families and an empowering interaction for the patients.

As part of Bedside Magic, we also offer Share the Magic to ensure that the benefits of magic continue even after the magician leaves the bedside. Children receive illustrated instruction manuals (“The Secret Lessons”) and special magic props to perform on their own. Special “advanced magic” is also available through our online Secret Society of Magic.

Bedside Magic is currently present in the following Chicago Area Hospitals:

  • Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago
  • Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital, Oak Lawn
  • Rush University Medical Center Children’s Hospital, Chicago
  • Advocate Lutheran General Children’s Hospital, Park Ridge
  • NorthShore Evanston Hospital, Evanston
  • Central DuPage Hospital, Winfield

Volunteer Training through Magic University

Our Hospital Magicians are no ordinary magicians — and no ordinary volunteers. When they join Open Heart Magic, they are trained at Magic University, an intensive, selective 12-week training program that includes a curriculum of sleight of hand, close–up magic, magic as therapy and youth interaction and empowerment techniques as well as a cutting–edge training in adaptation techniques to work and engage patients of any medical situation. They also make a one–year commitment to serving as a Bedside Magician after their training.

But training in magic is only half the equation. Our Hospital Magicians are also trained in how to interact with children in the often stressful setting of the hospital room. They learn how to confront illness and suffering, and to help children tap into their imaginative powers to experience joy, wonder, and healing. They also learn how to adapt their magic routines to suit all children, regardless of developmental, physical, or linguistic restrictions. Some of our volunteers have even pioneered techniques for making magic accessible and engaging for patients who are blind.

How we began making magic ›