Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme - Breathe

Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme

Our clinically effective, fun and engaging approach to therapy for young people with hemiplegia

Breathe Arts Health Research has designed, researched and delivered an innovative intervention incorporating specially selected magic tricks that provoke specific two-handed actions, performance and problem-solving skills into an intensive bimanual and goal-oriented therapy programme for young people with hemiplegia, since 2008.

Grounded in world-class medical research, this award-winning approach gives young people access to over 60 hours of bimanual intensive therapy and transforms them into young magicians. Highly specialist occupational therapists work alongside Magic Circle magicians to provide therapy in a group setting with one-to-one support, delivering interventions tailored to suit each young person’s particular strengths and needs.

How will my child benefit?

By learning high-quality magic and performance skills in a fun & safe environment, your child will;

  • Increase their independence in self-care skills and other activities that the child and family highlight.
  • Improvement in their pyschosocial skills such as building confidence, self-esteem and emotional wellbeing.
  • Develop the skills to perform two-handed daily activities with increased independence.
  • Make life-long friendships meeting other young people with hemiplegia.


Depending on initial abilities, between 75% and 92% of children have clinically significant improvements in hand function after the Breathe Magic camp

What are the results?

  • Our research shows that participants had clinically significant improvements in bimanual (two-handed) motor skills and independence. These were well maintained at the 6 month follow-up assessments.
  • Reported improvements in psychological wellbeing and parent-child relationships.
  • Reported reductions in hours of care and support from parents following the young person’s participation in the programme, due to their newfound independence. Our preliminary research suggests a reduction of up to 4 hours per day in care and support needed per young person between their two primary carers.
  • More cost-effective than usual standard care (a mixture of non intensive occupational therapy interventions and botulinum toxin injections) with additional psychosocial benefits reported.
  • Gives the young person and their family the opportunity to create peer support networks and build social connections.

Frequently asked questions

The programme is for young people, aged 7–19 years old, who have a clinical diagnosis of hemiplegia or a predominant one-sided weakness or paralysis. It is advantageous if the young person also has an interest in magic/performance/theatre.

The programme is delivered for 10 days over two consecutive weeks, Monday–Friday from 10am–4pm each day. It is a non-residential, fun, group camp model, followed by two virtual and one in-person Breathe Magic clubs in Oct, Nov & Dec.

Day 10 of the intensive will culminate with a professional magic show on the final day, where the young people will perform alongside the magicians in a professional venue for their parents, family, and friends.

Each young person will undergo a pre-screening with our Clinical Leads via an in-person Taster Day, before being accepted onto the programme. Our main eligibility criteria include; being aged 7 to 18 years at the time of the camp, able to learn at mainstream (or equivalent) level, able to follow 3-4 multi-step instructions, able to work as part of a group, and keen to learn magic!

To register your interest or discuss a young person’s suitability for the programme, please contact us or express your interest by filling in our referral form at the top of the page.

Typically, the programme runs in August during the summer school holidays in London.

Yes, they must be able to attend all sessions. This is important as the acquisition of new motor skills is dependent on the intensity of practice over a concentrated period and each session builds on previous skills learnt. Attendance for the 10 day intensive is very important to make the most of this magical opportunity and to work on other functional goals identified at the beginning of the workshops. Attendance at the magic clubs are equally important for consolidation (saving and retention) of new abilities as well as promoting continued progress across activities.

We can only accept young people who do not have significant learning or behavioural difficulties or aphasia. If your child does attend a special school and may have some specific learning needs, please contact the Breathe Magic team to speak with our Programme Manager to discuss the suitability of the programme. Although each young person will be allocated where possible a 1-to-1 Magic Trainer each day, they must be able to work/play without 1-to-1 supervision for short periods, remember simple sequences of three to four steps, have a sufficient level of English to communicate and participate in group activities.

The Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme is an internationally researched programme with demonstrated clinical benefits and follows NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidance for best practice delivery of therapy for young people with hemiplegia. The cost per place for a child taking part in this highly effective, specialist 6-month programme is £5,974.

We are committed to working together with parents to ensure as many young people as possible can access our programmes. The team at Breathe work hard all year round to secure funding from NHS Commissioners, businesses, grant funders and individuals to cover as much of the cost of each child’s place as possible. This means we can offer all children taking part in the programme a subsidised place of £3,850 (subject to change).

There are several funding options that you can pursue to cover the cost of your child’s place on the programme. The Breathe team can offer advice to guide you through this process and support you if you are fundraising.

What is the evidence-base?

Approximately 1 in 1000 young people have hemiplegia. At least 65% of them (in the 7-19 age bracket the programme is designed for) could benefit from intensive motor therapy. For 60% of those, it also affects their psychosocial development.

Due to inconsistencies in service provision in the UK, the majority of young people with hemiplegia have no access to intensive bimanual (two-handed) therapies in the UK despite this approach receiving a ‘Green Light’ in a systematic review (Novak et al., 2013 & 2019) and supported by NICE guidelines (CG145, 2012 & 2016).

Breathe Magic has been selected as a case study of good evidence and practice in the World Health Organisation’s report on the evidence on arts in health and wellbeing.

It has also received national mainstream press and media coverage including BBC’S The One Show and Channel 5 News, and featured in The Times and Evening Standard.

Our Awards

Our Partners


(Green, D., Schertz, M., Gordon, A. M., Moore, A., Schejter Margalit, T., Farquharson, Y., Fattal-Valevski, A. (2013). A multi-site study of functional outcomes following a themed approach to hand–arm bimanual intensive therapy for children with hemiplegia. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 55(6), 527–533)

(Fancourt, D., Wee, J. and Lorencatto, F. (2020). Identifying mechanisms of change in a magic-themed hand-arm bimanual intensive therapy programme for children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy: a qualitative study using behaviour change theory. BMC Pediatrics, 20(1), 363)

Sign up

Join our monthly newsletter and be the first to know about Breathe news and updates

Sign Up

By supporting our work, you're enabling us to reach more people with our creative healthcare programmes