NHS Lambeth conjures up funds for young magician

THAT'S MAGIC!: Angel Syed, with her mum and brother, took part in a magic camp for children with hemiplegia
THAT’S MAGIC! Angel Syed, with her mum and brother, took part in a magic camp for children with hemiplegia

NHS Lambeth has pulled a rabbit out of the hat, by funding a local youngster with hemiplegia to attend a unique magic camp for children with her condition.

Angel Syed took part in Breathe Magic, an award-winning programme from Breathe arts health research.

She has hemiplegia, a condition caused by damage to the brain before or at birth, that leaves people with paralysis or weakness on one side of the body.

At the two-week camp, the nine year old learnt specially selected magic tricks to help improve her fine motor skills and boost her confidence.

Angel’s mum, Sumira, told the Blog: “I was surprised that the programme exists and so glad we got the opportunity for Angel. It has helped her understand she is not alone and she has much more confidence in using her affected arm and hand than before.

“She is tying up her shoelaces, she’s able to hold a cup with two hands and pull up her socks and trousers. It’s amazing to see my little girl so happy.”

Research has shown the repetitive action of practising the tricks can help build up strength and dexterity. As the children perfected their routines they were inadvertently improving their mobility and coordination, increasing their independence at home and in school.

Angel was born severely premature at 24 weeks, measuring the length of a biro and weighing just 790 grams or half a bag of sugar. At birth she suffered a bleed on the brain and her lungs collapsed. Angel, who lives with her mother and older brother, has cerebral palsy left hemiplegia – weakness on the left side of her body – as well as other life-changing conditions.

The family was told about the Breathe Magic summer camp by Angel’s therapy team at the Mary Sheridan Centre for Child Health. The camps are led by Magic Circle magicians working alongside occupational therapists and physiotherapists. The programmes culminate in a magic show where the children perform alongside professional magicians in the prestigious Magic Circle theatre in Euston.

Yvonne Farquharson, Managing Director, Breathe arts health research explained: “Over the two week period children progress significantly in using their weaker hand to perform two-handed tasks independently. In practical terms this means that, for the first time, children are able to use both hands to dress themselves, cut up food or tie shoelaces.

“Improvements in independence corresponds in a reduction in the additional time parents were providing support to their children by up to half. The acquisition of these practical skills as well as having a special talent to ‘wow’ their friends, in turn delivers significant benefits to the children’s emotional wellbeing.”

Angel is now enjoying showing off her newfound sleight of hand to her older brother, friends and family. She told the Blog: “It was 100 per cent great and I was so happy to meet other children with the same condition as me.”

For information on Breathe Magic you can visit Breathe arts health research at www.breatheahr.org or call 07841 909 528, and can follow on twitter @BreatheAHR.