It’s hard for me to believe it’s already November 2015…and I haven’t posted here in months! I apologize for that. Many of you are following me on Facebook and/or Twitter. With daily updates and tweets, I wondered if it was necessary to post here? The plan is to post monthly with an overview of where I’ve been and what’s been happening.
Many of you probably know that Cindy and I have set aside the “big illusion show” to focus our efforts on the work of our non-profit, Hocus Focus, Inc. This new career path has been taking me on some interesting adventures. I’ve racked up almost 30,000 air miles in the last month and, as I write this, I’ve just returned from Nicaragua where, with Susan O’Rourke, we laid the foundation for some long-term work with their special needs population. These are definitely exciting times!
I’ve spent the last 18 months working with a team of educators to psychometrically validate an assessment instrument that measures student growth in five dimensions (cognition, motor skills, creativity, oral expression, and social skills) using an arts-integrated teaching approach. The first phase of this research is complete and the instrument has a 95% reliability coefficient – extremely valid! The second phase of that project is set to begin in Fall 2016 with the help and support of the National Endowment for the Arts.
I started October by keynoting the Ohio Occupational Therapy Conference (OOTA) in Columbus with the theme of “Creating the Magic from Within.” I was asked to “inspire” the audience by sharing research and powerful stories. After the keynote, I was scheduled to do two workshops, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Pre-registration numbers for the workshops were great – 58 for the first and 39 for the second. After the keynote presentation, the first workshop swelled to more than 100 and the second peaked at 74! Judy Anderson is the OOTA Conference Chair:
“Kevin, thank you for being a part of our conference. You are the reason it was so great and many are saying it was the best conference we’ve ever had! Your involvement in so many areas of our conference – keynote, Town Hall meeting, round table discussion, and participated in our social events – was impressive to the Board and made a significant impact on our attendees. The feedback from both of your workshops has been overwhelming – some of the best feedback we’ve ever received! Thank you for being you and sharing your time with all of us.”
Jo Loutzeniser is an OTR/L from Medina, OH and she shared these comments with me via email:
“Thank you so very much for sharing your talents and gifts with myself and all the OT’s at conference! I am looking forward to seeing first hand how Magic truly has a healing power! I am very excited to begin utilizing Magic in my treatments! Most of all, thank you for promoting out of the box thinking. I believe when we step out of the box, we then begin to see the limitless possibilities of true client centered care; utilizing the internal motivation of curiosity, wonder and amazement that leads to the miracle of an improved quality of life! Thank you for sharing your story!”
After speaking at the OOTA Conference, I boarded a plane for the United Kingdom to keynote the National Association of Special Schools (NASS) Conference in Brighton. This was an opportunity for me to share my concepts of “phenomenon-based learning,” an educational framework that uses the natural curiosity of children as the driver of learning and the arts as the “phenomenon” that triggers that curiosity.
Claire Doerer is the CEO of NASS. She sent me this email after returning home:
“I wanted to say just how much I enjoyed spending time with you on your visit and how grateful I am that you found the time to join us for conference and the school visits. I had an email from Sue and William Henry Smith today who said that the boys’ good behaviour from last Thursday carried through the Friday – which is amazing! It was a great joy and privilege watching you work with our schools and seeing so many young people really engaged with and lit up by what you were doing. I was genuinely envious of your immense social ease! I would love to think more about how we make use of our schools to pilot your Hocus Focus programme and measures and how we might do that in a way where NASS could take on much of the leg work and leave you to provide expertise and sparkle!”
Brighton is a beautiful city on the water filled with great art. The Cultural Center is a spectacular complex reminiscent of architecture from India. The many urban areas filled with graffiti art is one of my favorite things about Brighton. The picture above was taken in front of one of those murals. If you want to see more of the amazing graffiti, check out my Facebook album.
After wrapping up at the NASS Conference, I rented a car to make the 5-hour drive from Brighton to North Wales where I was asked to keynote the first therapies conference in Wales. Attendance for this specialized event was excellent for their first offering and the feedback from the presentation was encouraging. Angela Morgan is the Conference Coordinator:
“Wow, what a fantastic presentation Kevin and thank you so much. Everyone was buzzing afterwards. All – and I mean all delegates – have left evaluation forms and, as I go through them now, they constantly refer to you and how you inspired them with your presentation. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
My next stop in the UK was back in Brighton…then London, Brighouse, and York. In each of these cities, I was asked to demonstrate how the Hocus Focus project works with students in several special schools. Students ranged from having developmental and intellectual disabilities to those with extreme emotional/behavior disorders. Miles was one of the students with whom I had the privilege of working. The change in his attitude and behavior was evident from morning until he volunteered to perform for his classmates at the end of the day. You can check out Miles’ performance here. https://vimeo.com/144144190
On the way back to Heathrow Airport
I was home from the UK for a day before catching my next flight to Sacramento, CA to keynote the Occupational Therapy Association of California. More than 800 therapists gathered for the annual event. You don’t always hear immediate feedback after a keynote but my Twitter feed was on fire!
Thank you again for your incredible presentation at OTAC yesterday afternoon. You were so inspiring! We could feel your joy and excitement in the audience and it was wonderful. – Amber Crowley, OTR/L (Berkeley, CA)
The following morning, I conducted a 3-hour workshop for almost 100 Occupational Therapists on the therapeutic use of magic in physical and psychosocial rehab. It’s astounding at how quickly the time goes when everyone is engaged in learning!
I attended your keynote address at the OT Association of California annual conference this past weekend. I am a hand therapist with over 25 years experience working with patients. I’ve attended hundreds of continuing ed courses, taught many continuing ed courses myself, taught at several universities, written for therapy text books and professional journals, chaired professional associations and regulatory boards……………and NOTHING has excited me more than the concept you presented this past weekend in Sacramento! I almost didn’t attend your talk because I thought it was going to be another “hokey” presentation. BOY WAS I WRONG! You have created something really special, and the fact that this approach is evidence-based excites me beyond belief. I’ve never been so interested in a treatment approach in all my years of practice. I was literally moved to tears. My only regret is not registering for your workshop at conference.
– Dr. Christine Wietlisbach, OTD, ORR/L, CHT, MPA (Eisenhower Medical Center – Rancho Mirage, CA)
Thank you for having such a great impact on so many this past week..and apparently globally. I have never really been interested in magic, but seeing how magical it is for people of all ages has surely changed my perspective. I used the paper clip with several of my kids this week and wow…they loved it. Specifically one of my high functioning Cerebral Palsy kids whom I have been having trouble engaging in treatment for some time now. All i said was the word MAGIC and he came to life. He is completely motivated to participate and do other parts of the treatment to get to the Magic part. He is asking for more tricks and wants to go to some of my other classes and perform for them…this is huge for this kid. Thank you for giving me these tools to engage these kiddos on a whole different level. I love it!!
– Angi Rigby, OTR/L (Bakersfield, CA)
Powerful Medicine: Simply Magic was recognized with a Filmmaker of the Year 2015 Platinum Award in the Short Documentary category. This organization was established to support independent filmmakers and to provide international recognition and exposure for important project.
Recently, the United Nations World Humanitarian Awards and World Peace Day 2015 were celebrated in Jakarta, Indonesia. We received notification that the film received the International Humanitarian Platinum Award sponsored by the United Nations. In addition, I was the recipient of the New Star of Humanity Award – a very humbling honor.
That’s it for now….