BAG OF TRICKS: EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
A MESSAGE FROM KEVIN SPENCER
My name is Kevin Spencer. My childhood passion for magic turned into a 30-year career that has enabled me to create and perform one of the largest theatrical touring illusion shows in the world. I never believed I could achieve greater satisfaction than traveling the globe performing magic. But it turns out I was wrong.
Through my own personal tragedy and, more recently, my association with some extraordinary individuals, I’ve learned that mastering even the simplest magic trick can be one of the most satisfying and therapeutic activities one can do.
I’ve long been a believer in the power of the arts to positively impact the quality of people’s lives. My commitment to that belief has taken me down some interesting paths. One of the most rewarding has been working with people who struggle daily with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
In 2010, I accepted an Adjunct Faculty position in the Occupational Therapy Department at the University of Alabama in Birmingham to research the physical and psychosocial benefits of integrating simple magic tricks into the therapy and education of individuals with disabilities. The documented results, much of which has been published in several international research journals, are nothing short of phenomenal.
You may be asking how mastering a simple magic trick can have such a positive effect. The biggest reason is that the art of magic has the ability to capture and hold the attention of people of all ages. Children especially are intrigued by the seeming impossibility of a magic trick. By tapping into their natural curiosity, we can teach them to perform magic tricks and the results are improvement in their motor skills and coordination, greater ability to organize tasks and movements, and a tremendous boost in their confidence and self-esteem. And equally important, this activity provides them the opportunity to develop social skills that are so often critical to their success and acceptance.
People who have disabilities are often thought to be different from the rest of us. They’re not. They have hopes and dreams just like everyone, but their future is often molded by the attitudes and perceptions we have about them. As a society, we have to stop focusing on their disabilities and start appreciating their abilities. This film will allow them to tell their stories in their own words in a compassionate and captivating way. Their experiences can move us one step closer to transforming our attitudes and fostering hope.
If you agree that raising awareness is a positive step in changing people’s attitudes toward the disabled, then I hope you’ll see the value in making this film. Once it is completed, we hope it will be shown in film festivals, community theatres, on college campuses, in local churches, on television, and anywhere else people gather. But we can only make this film if people like you join us in this effort. I hope you will.
Please, watch the video...and read on. There’s a lot more here than meets the eye. The power of a simple magic trick may be the best magic of all!
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