This summer has been a busy one for Breathe Magic and especially for one of our Lead Magicians Richard McDougall. Smack in the middle of our two summer camps, Breathe Arts Health Research was invited to give the closing presentation at TEDxNHS this year in front of nearly 300 health professionals live in the Wilton’s Music Hall, as well as hundreds more who were live streaming the event! By all accounts, the presentation was a smashing success, and if our Twitter feed is anything to go by, people were absolutely blown away by our presentation and the work of Breathe Magic. In addition to Richard’s talk, he was joined on stage by former Young Magician and long-time Mentor Joshua Parsons. Josh was the star of the show, and performed his magic trick to the music of Ludovico Einaudi – I Giorni, which received a standing ovation! Josh put in an incredible amount of work to prepare for the show, and his efforts more than paid off. We asked Josh to give an insight into his experience and here is what Josh had to say:
“My favourite part was definitely my performance, because although I was nervous, it was also uplifting to be able to share my story with a big group of people who were interested in what I had to show them. I performed the Cups and Balls. It really shows off all the various movements I am able to perform now and it makes for a spectacular illusion that lends itself to performance.
“I had performed to bigger audiences before but never on my own, and to me this feels like a huge milestone. I used multiple calming strategies, but the main ones that impacted my ability to perform on stage were a) the intense rehearsals in the weeks prior to assure I was confident in myself and b) standing on stage with one of my mentors (Richard) gave me a sense of renewed confidence in what I was doing. And I knew he would be there in case things didn’t go to plan.
“In my experience many young people with hemiplegia have issues with self-confidence. Being part of the Mentor Programme at Breathe I quickly learnt the importance of having a similar aged role model on camps. I have learned the terminology and some of the techniques behind the Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programmes. Being there and speaking to other Young Magicians means that they can be more open and improve in lots of functional areas, as well as tackle their public anxiety issues.
“Joining Breathe Magic as a Young Magician and Mentor has had such a climactic effect. I would say it has changed my life for the better indefinitely. I now feel more comfortable in my day-to-day activities. I also feel comfortable talking at social gatherings, and that doesn’t even begin to cover the physical aspect. I’m definitely more independent and able to rely on my own physical abilities. Being a mentor has also given me a professional outlook that should come with any job. The TEDxNHS talk was a real highlight in my life and me and my family are quite proud of how far my confidence has developed.
“The one piece of advice I would give to anyone with hemiplegia would be: Don’t be afraid to seize the opportunity of coming to Breathe! It’s an unmissable opportunity that has huge effects.”