Working as a Breathe Magic Mentor has given 15 year-old Ellie from Winchester an insight into occupational therapy as a possible future career, as well as a sense of purpose and independence beyond her years.

Work experience can have a great impact on a teenager’s future employability, because it not only gives them a taste of the technical or professional skills they need, but also helps develop the ‘soft’ skills employers look for – such as good communication skills and an aptitude for teamwork.

Ellie took part in one of the first Breathe Magic camps in 2010 and has been working as a mentor since 2012, so now she’s obviously very adept at the magic tricks. However it’s seeing the difference Breathe Magic makes to the younger children, and playing a role in that process, that motivates her to give up a chunk of her summer holiday to work for Breathe.

Ellie says:

“I’ve really enjoyed seeing the children improving their skills and being able to help them with this in a fun way.”

Her Mum, Gay, told us:

“We were quite impressed to hear everything she’d been doing at the camps. As well as coaching the younger children how to do the magic tricks, she also takes part in meetings about the running of the camps, the sort of work experience I didn’t get till I was in my 20s.

It’s difficult to describe what life is really like for somebody with hemiplegia. Needless to say, she has to apply herself to her studies and beinga Breathe Magic Mentor gives her a huge amount of confidence and self-worth.” 

Ellie is currently studying for her GCSEs. In addition to mentoring, she’s a keen swimmer who has competed at national competition level and scooped a cabinet full of medals. In 2015 Winchester District Sports Association named her as Junior Disability Sports Person of the Year for her dedication and achievements.

“Having interests outside of school like magic and swimming gives me confidence in what I can achieve and how I can help others.” – Ellie.

Gay says attending the Breathe Magic camp as a 10 year-old was a pivotal moment for Ellie:

“It was the first time she felt like one of the more able children in the room and could help other children do things. And of course the function in her right arm improved hugely.”

Now she’s part of the Breathe Magic Mentor Programme, Ellie isn’t missing a trick by helping give other kids with hemiplegia a chance to reap the rewards of this magical therapy.