A Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy programme is seeking young people aged between 7 and 18 affected by hemiplegia to take part when it returns to Gloucestershire next year.

Part of Gloucestershire’s nationally recognised Social Prescribing programme, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group has teamed up with Breathe Arts Health Research to offer a 10 day ‘Magic Camp’ during April 2020.

The innovative, award-winning clinical programme uses specially chosen magic tricks that combine occupational therapy and creativity to help children with hemiplegia to build strength and dexterity in their affected arm and hand.

The aim is to significantly improve the young people’s hand function, social interaction, confidence and independence over the course of the programme – and it works. Clinical research on the programme has shown that between 75% and 92% of children have clinically significant improvements in hand function after the Breathe Magic camp.

Taught by professional Magic Circle magicians and occupational therapists, the programme offers 60 hours of one to one therapy over a 10 day camp, where Breathe combine the learning of magic tricks with a focus on everyday activities such as cutting up food, or crafts.

Seven local children were involved in the first phase of the programme in April 2019. The camp will return to Gloucestershire in April 2020 and will culminate in a special Magic Show involving the young people at the Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham Ladies College.

Families with young people affected by hemiplegia who may be interested in joining the 2020 programme can either register their interest directly on the Breathe website (breatheahr.org/referral-form/), or sign up to come to a taster day on 18th January to find out more.

Director of Service Transformation at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Ellen Rule said:

“We were really excited to see what Breathe Arts Health Research could offer and were thrilled that they were able to come to Gloucestershire thanks in part to the generous fundraising support of local businesses.

The feedback we received from those who took part last April has been so positive and heart-warming and we are keen to build on this going forward. I would encourage people to get in touch to express an interest in taking part, or to sign up for the taster day session in January to find out more.”

Gloucestershire is leading the way nationally in using innovative arts and crafts initiatives to empower and support people with long term health conditions.

This can take many forms, but common benefits include an increase in confidence and personal skills, improved wellbeing and in many cases less reliance on health and care services.

Head of Therapy for Breathe Arts Health Research, Rosey Sutton said:

“We know that Gloucestershire is very much a leading light in using arts and recreation to improve the health and wellbeing of residents and it is great that this is benefitting people of all ages.

“It was a joy and a pleasure to deliver the Breathe Magic programme in Gloucestershire last April and to see the young people blossom and gain so much from the camp – physically, emotionally and socially. We are very much looking forward to the 2020 programme, meeting more young people from the area and helping them to become young magicians.”

Sarah Birmingham, Service Director, Children’s and Young People’s Services at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We are delighted to work with Breath Arts Health Research and the Clinical Commissioning Group in providing this exciting opportunity for young people. The programme will help develop independence and increase self-confidence, while being delivered in a fun and creative learning environment.”

The programme has been partly funded by NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group.