Andrew's Breathe Magic Trainer Experience - Breathe

Andrew’s Breathe Magic Trainer Experience

Thu 27 Jan 2022

In this short Q&A, Andrew Bates (Children’s Occupational Therapist), shares his experience of being a Breathe Magic Trainer on the Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme in 2019.

Why did you want to become a Breathe Magic Trainer? 

At the time, I was studying a BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy full time at London South Bank University and heard about Breathe Magic from my fellow students. I was interested in working with children and young people and loved the idea of using magic to achieve a clinical outcome. An opportunity came up to volunteer as a Breathe Magic Trainer and I signed up immediately.

What experience did you build by volunteering your time across the 10-day intervention?

The experience I gained on the programme was invaluable. Not only did I receive training on the anatomy and physiology of the upper limb, but I was also taught how to complete standardised assessments and carry out evidence-based interventions for children and young people living with hemiplegia.

What did you do on a day-to-day basis?

In the morning, the team met to discuss the previous day and plan for the day ahead. The children then arrive, and we started therapy immediately. Rehab is built into the whole day, so as soon as the children walk through the door, we challenge them to use both hands together. As a Breathe Magic Trainer, you are responsible for working with 1-2 children throughout the day, helping them prepare for the final show by practicing their magic tricks. There is also an opportunity for play and functional skill practice, such as dressing, toileting and feeding.

My favourite part of the programme is the final show. The parents/carers attend and get to see what their child has been working on. It’s always a very emotional and proud moment, seeing what they have achieved within such a short period of time.
Andrew Bates, Children's Occupational Therapist and former Breathe Magic Trainer

Name a magical moment.

It is difficult to name just one magical moment, but I was always blown away by the confidence the young magicians had by the end of the programme. One child was extremely nervous when they started, and it took a long time to develop their self-esteem. Seeing them on the stage by the end of the two weeks, projecting their voice and showing their new skills to a room full of people, was particularly magical.

How has the programme influenced what you went on to do?

Volunteering at the Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme confirmed that I wanted to work with children and young people. I went straight into paediatrics once I graduated from university and worked for two years in a Child Development Service. I now work as a Children’s Occupational Therapist in an acute hospital, covering paediatric trauma and orthopaedics, intensive care, haematology, and oncology.

What skills did you see a young person gain (from a physical, independence or hand skills perspective)?

Since graduating, I’ve worked with many children and young people with hemiplegia. This includes assessing and treating them. Although we saw great outcomes in the community, I am yet to see the same change in function that we would see at the end of camp. The young people would nearly always achieve their functional goals and observe a stark increase in their independence.

What did the young magicians teach you?

​There is still a high level of stigma and prejudice surrounding disability. Each camp, the young magicians show us how extremely capable they are, despite the difficulties that they are facing. Breathe Magic shows us what young people living with hemiplegia can really achieve if the environment that they are in, and the people that they are around, are nurturing, inclusive, and compassionate.

If you are an Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist (in-training or qualified) and Andrew’s experience has sparked your interest in becoming Breathe Magic Trainer, find out more here.

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