ROSEVILLE — The Recreation Authority of Roseville & Eastpointe is hoping a class teaching magic tricks to elementary school kids will teach them another item: self-confidence.
On Feb. 13, magician and entertainer Steve Zieman is going to spend 90 minutes teaching attendees “pocket magic tricks,” including those using coins and cards, according to Recreation Authority Assistant Director Bobbie Wilson.
“I actually used to run this program at the center I was at previous to this and actually worked with the same guy,” Wilson said. “He did a great job. We were in need of a new youth program, an enrichment program — we do a lot of sports here, but enrichment is an area we need to grow a bit more — so I went into the old file and pulled him out again.”
She said while teaching kids basic magic tricks is a part of the program, it — and the “Balloonology 101” class Zieman will be holding March 13 — is focused on helping kids get more comfortable speaking in front of other people and building up their self-esteem and self-confidence.
The kids will be able to get up and perform their tricks in front of their peers, she said, and will get a take-home kit and handouts to perform outside of the class.
“It’s about having the kids have an opportunity to learn something new and expose them to other activities and events they may not be accustomed to,” Wilson said. “And if we can help build their self-confidence and self-esteem, then this program falls right in.”
Zieman said he started doing the classes 20 years ago. He had worked at Wayne State University’s communications department before then, and he had come up with tools to help kids build speaking and tactile skills, as well as memory techniques, that were directed at building self-esteem.
“I incorporate magic tricks to not only help them learn these tricks, but also to pick up skills they can use throughout their school and life,” Zieman said. “I introduce myself, show them a magic trick, show them how to do it, and then give each child one of the tricks (and) go over it.”
He said he helps each kid as they learn the trick themselves — or will ask older kids to assist if the group is large enough — and after the kids have learned the trick, he said everyone then does it, and he will teach them how to come up with a story to tell while doing it in front of a group of people.
The magic and balloon programs go hand in hand, but are standalone, Wilson said — kids do not need to take them both. The balloon program will teach children how to make simple creations, like swords, flowers and dinosaurs, she said. Both classes have run in elementary schools, as well as recreation centers, she added, and Zieman said he typically does about 100 a year.
“The kids love it,” he said. “It empowers the children. They’re now able to do things other people can’t do, and they enjoy it. People are afraid to get up in front of other people to speak, and this gives them a reason to do it. And they’ve done it with me, so they know it’s not that scary.”
He added that in addition to the take-home materials, he also will tell kids where they can get more information if they want to learn more, such as by visiting a local library.
Wilson said the classes would only run if they get a minimum of 10 registrations by Feb. 11 and March 11, respectively. The cost for each class is $15 for residents of Eastpointe and Roseville, and $20 for nonresidents.
Classes are open to kids in first through sixth grade. For more information, call the recreation center, located at 18185 Sycamore St., at (586) 445-5480.
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