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Profile of BrianMillerMagic
A good magician friend and I volunteer a couple times yearly at Buffalo's School 84. The school is of mentally and physically challenged children, and then also some high school kids that simply did not like regular high school for various reasons. The grade range is anywhere for Kingergarten through high school, and up to 22 years of age (approximately).

Usually we each do a set of 20-30 minutes; my friend performs in one room for everyone that is somewhere around 6th grade and younger, and I perform for those above 6th grade in another. The reason being is that my friend is a fantastic children's magician as well as balloon sculptor, whereas my area of "expertise" is in performing for adults.

Performing at this school is a joy each and every time. It is such a nice feeling to practice our craft for people that genuinly appreciate our time and effort. Some of my favorite memories of performing have been from this school. It is always a challenge to try to customize routines to work for this kind of an audience, but it is so rewarding when it is all said and done. After our stage performances we each go around to rooms that have specifically requested we come around to do some close-up magic, which is my favorite part of the day because it brings my right up close with the kids to be able to talk and interact.

I just thought I'd share my moment, and anyone that is looking for experience as a beginner or are simply looking to use their magic to do good deeds ought to look into these types of school in their area, in addition to the traditional hospitals, retirement homes etc.
The magic cracker
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Wow, you and your friend sound like really great magicians
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Profile of BrianMillerMagic
I couldn't tell if that was sarcastic or not, so I'm going to respond that "great magicians" have nothing to do with the point of volunteering. It's about bring joy and entertaining these kids that have so little. But if you weren't being sarcastic, thank you.
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Profile of mrunge
Thanks for helping Brian.

Places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools for the disabled offer wonderful opportunities to volunteer and they are always happy when others want to help. It's also a great way to "try out" a new routine of effect for others.

Keep up the great work!

Mark. Smile
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Profile of DeaconBlu
Hey Brian, got to hand it to you two. There is a school like that where I live and I've kind of avoided approaching them for a pro bono session or three because I have no idea what I'll run into. Can you share with us if there are any specific areas that need attention before doing a show for special needs kids?
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Profile of BrianMillerMagic
DeaconBlu - No loud noises. No sudden surprises. No adult gags. Probably no card tricks that are heavy on memorization. Probably no mentalism. Very simple, visual magic that involves lots of silks, the coloring book, maybe some levitations (Bill Abbott's The Thing is great), multiplying balls, plenty of comedy, etc. The kids don't care about the "magic" as much as they just want to have a good time. Keep that in mind. If you'd like more detailed help then feel free to PM me.
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Profile of mcharisse
The most rewarding show I've ever given was a benefit for Special Olympics. the kids were very involved with the magic and seemed to appreciate my magician-in trouble-persoona. As an audience they were far more appreciative than any birthday or girl whose rich parents could afford a magician...
Kipp Sherry
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I'm with you on that one. Special Olympics is one of the organizations I continually donate performances to. It really is a great organization and it is full of great people with disabilities doing great things. These kids and adults really hold a special place in my heart, not with sympathy, but with pride.


Koodos to you too.

Until we appear again,
Kipp Sherry
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Bill Palmer
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Our IBM Ring has a program where we volunteer for hospital work. As a part of this, there are a half dozen of us who perform for Camp Buckaroo every summer. Camp Buckaroo is for children with cerebral palsy, but there are also children with other related disorders.

I have performed for the children at Camp Buckaroo for the better part of two decades.

Usually, each child will have an attendant, who is also a volunteer. The kids take great pleasure in watching their attendants participate in magic. The kids also like to participate as well, but if you are doing something that requires a steady grip on a prop, it may be better to use the attendant.

The main thing is to give them a chance to enjoy themselves.
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Profile of Justin Style
I've been performing in psychiatric centers and mental health facilities for over twenty years. I work with patients from mild to the extreme, including United Cerebral Palsy of New York. The MOST IMPORTANT thing I have learned over the thousands of shows I have done, is: Treat EVERYBODY with decency and respect! The rest is easy! Plain and simple. That’s it, that’s all there is to it. The rest is just hype.

Read the story of my years and experience performing in psych. Centers in the April, 2007 issue of Magic Magazine - Therapeutic Thaumaturgy

Or pm me and I will be glad to help you with any tips I can.

Good Luck –

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Profile of jbk2006
I performed/helped out with my school's special education class. I have to say, they are the best audience! No hecklers or trouble makers at all. After each show I did for them they all came up and hugged me. My teachers said that half the kids wimper away when meeting new people. My school urges me to start projectmagic as close as possible. Since I live in a small town, I see my friendly classmates often and always get a hug. From doing shows with them I have learned several things and also changed my thoughts about the handicaped.
1. They are no different, just a little slower.
2. They are the nicest people you will meet.
3. I no longer say retarded due to the reason I feel they are a part of me.

I hope this helps
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Profile of wa-na-be
The IBM ring 258 has been doing magic teach-ins at "Camp Boggy Creek". We just started this year. We have different group of children each time we go so it is never the same. We have had a great time and the kids are very excited about seeing us.

Some of the tricks we do are
1. Ring off string, simple version
2 Static electricity using post it notes
3 Floating wand/ pencil
4 news paper tree
5 clippo

If you get a chance to do a gig like this go for it, you'll have a great time.
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Profile of stephaniebeach
Hi Guys

This Wednesday (4/2/2014) I'm heading to Seven Hills in Groton Ma.
I'll be performing for severly disabled children.
They have focusing, moving...they could have brain injuries, autism...just a whole bunch of challenges.
I've been warned that, as this will be my first time with these children, my emotions could run away with me so
I'm preping for that.

Also I read the autism post here.
Great advice and great advice from this post too.

Here's the plan and I'll let you know how it goes for others.
I like the "make contact and be a friend first" advice. I'll do that.
Next I'll keep the music down and no loud bangs or such.
Also, I'll make exagerated expressions and smile a LOT!
I was told these kids don't really understand much so it will mostly be my reactions as a cue for them

My magic repitoire so far is:
1. Linking Rings to music to get their attention
2. D'Lites
3. I'll try the coloring book Silly Billy way.
4. Peanut butter and Jelly (They 'teleport' from can to can
5. 21st Century Silks (Scott Alexander Style)
6. Peek-boo bunny
7. Crystal tube and silks tied together. Concentrating on the silks flying in the air
8. I'm going to finish off with Butterfly Flurry (already approved by Seven Hills)

I'm going to add about 4 to 6 more illusions to make a 40 minute show.

Any last minute advice is always welcome.
Break a thread!
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Profile of stephaniebeach
Here is the program I sent to the Director of Seven Hills.
I felt it important for her to know exactly what is going to happen.
And since I have no idea, this will keep us in sync with the show.

I added this note: You might want to have children already chosen for the effects
that have a *. Those are the ones I will use a volunteer for.

Comments? Showtime tomorrow Smile

This is a pre-show warm up allowing the kids to see me, trust me and feel comfortable with the magic.
Colored lights appear at my fingertips.
I usually go into the audience and pretend to put the lights into the child's ears and
them 'pull' them out the other side.

Linking Rings
Visual and Audio
The rings are large and shiny.
The are not noisy but make definite sounds as they are manipulated

Peek a boo bunny
A cartoon bunny cutout called "Oscar" keeps popping his ears our of a hat.
The kids usually love this as the magician does not see the bunny but the
kids do. Then the bunny vanishes appearing in a most unusual place: Tucked in
the Magician's pants. The kids go wild.

* Crystal Tube
A volunteer helps with this. A silly hat is put on the volunteer.
Then he or she helps with making 3 silks tie together in a crystal tube.
But as luck would have it, the magician goofs up and the kids help out.

Coloring Book
A coloring book is shown with only line drawings. The kids 'throw colors' (They pretend to)
and the book now has colored drawings. But the kids erase the colors. This goes on a bit
with the kids throwing colors then erasing the colors. The poor magician's coloring book.
Finally the book is revealed to be all blank.

21st Century Silks
The magician does this alone. She ties two blue silks together and vanishes a red one.
But is not 'sneaky' and messes up. The kids point this out with cheers and delight.
Finally the red silk is gone and appears tied between the two blue silks

Axtell Meter
The Kids cheer and make any motion they can to 'move' the meter wish is a pointer pointing
at numbers from 1 to 10. The kids finally make one grand sound or motion and the meter goes
beyond 10, pops open and springs (slinkys) come out. It is self contained and nothing is thrown
into the audience.

*Bunny Silk
One child is picked and Pink nose and bunny ears put on the child from a magic bag.
Then the magic bag is opened and turns into a giant silk cloth with the body of a cartoon
bunny. It is held under the chin of the child making the child 'into' the bunny.

*The Thing
A child holds a clear box. There is a Ghost inside. The music starts, a blue silk cloth is
draped over the box and the ghost rises and flies about.

*Pitcher & Newspaper
A child is picked to sit in a chair and hold a glass. The Magician forms a cone from a
newspaper and reveals a pitcher of milk. The milk is going to be poured into the newspaper.
But to protect the child a silly shower cap, a bib and silly glasses with a big red nose is
put onto the child. The milk is poured into the newspaper and some into the glass (plastic glass).
The milk vanishes from the newspaper. But wait, that's not all.
Next the props are removed and the child is told he/she needs to drink their milk from the glass
through the top of their head. The child makes a big "SLURP" sound and the milk vanishes from the glass.

Mirror Box
An empty box is shown and from it comes silks and streamers and finally a big cascade of colorful silks.

Multiplying Pringles
Two Pringles can are shown and a bottle of milk. As the music starts the Pringles cans multiply as
the milk jumps about from under one can to the other. Finally, the poor magician is going crazy
with the Pringles cans. In the end there are 8 Pringles cans.

Butterfly Flurry
The finale. Two butterflies dance above a large red fan. They land on the fan then suddenly
there are dozens of paper butterflies that fly into the audience. Easy clean up and souvenirs for the kids.

Making your events Magical
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Profile of robvh
Hi Stephanie,

The set list looks good if surprisingly long. Given the audience and the advice earlier in the thread, the one item I would probably remove is the Axtell Meter. It could get too loud for some of the people in the audience and previous posters have commented that anything too shocking/surprising could be a problem and the meter popping open might qualify.

Good luck with your show! It would be great if you came back and shared with everyone how it went and what you learned.

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Profile of stephaniebeach
Thanks Rob

I put that effect in the middle for just your concerns.
Usually it is my first effect to get the crowd going.

Also, the number of illusions is long because I cannot anticipate the pace and participation of this show yet.
The plan is to pace the show according to the audience.
Since I don't know what the interactions will be, I'll have additional illusions to 'fill in any gaps' as the show goes on.
If the show is going at a good pace, then I plan to drop a few illusions.

I just needed to bring and prepare for as may contingencies as I can.

I will post my successes and issues I had.
I'm expecting a very special and rewarding show for everyone.
Making your events Magical
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Steve Axtell
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Profile of axtell
You can also use Off-The-Meter just to measure the crowd without the breaking "explosion". I've worked with both mentally and physically challenged kids my whole life and they love to achieve goals. Being able to see that the crowd left side could clap to a 6.... but then crowd right side can reach a 7..... back and great fun. You can hit the 10 all together without it breaking.

You can also do this as a running gag, testing the audience throughout the show. Do a quick test of the audience at the beginning & put it away. Then bring it out in the middle and see the number is higher "you're doing great!".... then at the end a final test and by then you've had so many magical surprises in the show that breaking the meter will not shock will be pure fun... or hit the 10 at the end. You have options!

There are some other ideas on the site. Hit the IDEAS and MORE link.

Axtell Expressions, Inc.
Pro Puppets, Magic & Animatronics
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Profile of george1953
I have often done shows for a local Downs Syndrome group. In my experience they are a great crowd to work for, no inhibitions. If you ask them to do something they normally do it without question. They are also some of the most appreciative audiences you will ever have.
By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail.
The Mighty Fool
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So, did the show go?
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
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Profile of MagicMan4848
I can see this would be very rewarding! Thank you for sharing! Smile
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