NEWS

MKAF hosts Hocus Focus Education

Special to The Log
Kevin Spencer presents Hocus Focus at the Autism Spectrum of the Emerald Coast. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF), a not-for-profit charitable arts organization founded in 1995 to be Northwest Florida's champion of cultural arts and arts education for all, brings award winning and internationally known magician Kevin Spencer to Northwest Florida.

If you ask MKAF, the goal to bring Spencer here has been a long time coming. Through Hocus Focus Education, the foundation reached 400 people in the community including local schools and agencies serving children and adults with special needs.

"We were thrilled to share both the extensive expertise and the joy that Kevin brings to people of all abilities,” said Melanie Moore, education director for MKAF. “I witnessed individuals who had absolutely no expectations of ever doing magic learning and performing for others, and that was truly magical! This residency typifies what we strive to do, which is to bring arts-based learning to all.”

Hocus Focus is a creative instructional tool to support the learning of all students, including those with varying degrees of educational challenges and abilities (autistic, cognitively delayed, emotionally disturbed and learning disabled students). The activities are motivational, promote positive self-expression and reinforce many key skills needed for student success.

Hocus Focus activities combine education and imagination to help children improve their abilities in planning, sequencing, organizing tasks and movements, fine motor skills, gross motor function/coordination, concentration, memory skills, communication, social behaviors, and others.

"It was an extraordinary experience 10 years in the making,” Spencer said. “One of the things that genuinely stands out for me is the incredible diversity of individuals arranged for me to work with. This was one of the most comprehensive residencies of which I’ve ever had the privilege of being a part."

Spencer is a teaching artist, researcher, speaker, consultant, and award-winning film producer, as well as part of the faculty in the special education program at Carlow University in Pennsylvania where he teaches a course on the intersection of the arts for special populations. He is also a world-renowned illusionist with dozens of accolades to his credit. He and his wife, Cindy, were the recipients of the Merlin Award for International Magicians of the Year (2009) and six-time recipients of Performing Arts Entertainer of the Year. Most recently, the Milbourne Christopher Foundation honored them as Illusionists of the Year (2015) for their unique contributions to the art of magic. Additional information can be found at www.kevinspencerlive.com.

For more information on MKAF Outreach programs or to join MKAF to receive added valued benefits, including preferred member pricing at special events, or to inquire about getting involved by volunteering or joining the Board of Directors, visit www.mattiekellyartsfoundation.org or call 850-50-2226 and follow them on Facebook.