A Moment of Magic allows college students to bring magic back to the childhoods of hospitalized children

The magical club operates remotely to bring joy to the lives of hospitalized children amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Moment of Magic Chapter Image from Elyse Herrman

A Moment of Magic Chapter Image from Elyse Herrman

Darlene Antoine, Features Editor

The chiming sounds of laughter and melodies of Disney songs ring out of Zoom rooms as the members of A Moment of Magic (AMoM) bring a little magic into the lives of hospitalized children.

AMoM came to FAU in August of 2020. While the emergence of the club coming about in the middle of the pandemic posed a challenge due to COVID-19, the members feel their work has been all the more rewarding by helping children. They have navigated the process of establishing the club through hosting virtual meetings and events to remain connected.

Due to COVID-19, the university’s AMOM cannot attend in-person hospital visits, however, the members have been able to attend virtual hotline calls where they can read stories, sing, and interact with the kids in the hospital.

President Elyse Herrman, Vice President Savanna Cassese, and Inter-Chapter Relations Chair Farah Eid successfully recruited 53 members to help them on their mission of bringing joy to hospitalized children in the Boca Raton area.

A Moment of Magic, formerly known as The Princess Project, is a program originally founded by Kylee McGrane (Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania) and Margaret McAndrew (Milford, Connecticut). The program allows college students to volunteer at children’s hospitals and schools dressed as some of the world’s most popular princesses, princes, and even superheroes.

When asked why they chose to establish A Moment of Magic at FAU, Herrman explained that the work of her family was both her inspiration and motivation for the club.

“My cousin, Falyn Stein, was a part of the founding chapter at Mount Saint Vincent College in New York. Seeing her passion for this organization made me want the same thing when I began college. I quickly came to realize the everlasting impact each of these kids had on her and knew this organization was made for me,” Herrman said.

AMoM at FAU is a Magic Maker Chapter which means the members will not be dressing up as Disney or superhero characters during remote visitations. Instead, the members focus on remote visitations and activities to bring positivity and rewarding connections among the children and the members.

“The most inspiring part of working with the staff and faculty at AMoM is hearing the wonderful stories of past magic makers, and the connections they have made with many of the families and children throughout the years. We are very excited to start making those memories for our own chapter as we begin to grow and flourish on campus,” Cassese said.

AMoM focuses on granting members a range of activities to become connected to hospitalized children over Zoom. These activities include crafts like coloring projects, book readings, art projects, and more. While the time allotted for crafts may vary due to instruction and the need for multiple supplies each member of AMoM expands the activities out throughout the full time they have with the child to make the most magic they can.

“The most memorable part of being a part of this organization would be leading this incredible group of people as president. Each and every day I feel appreciated for bringing this club to campus,” Herrman said. “As president, I am reminded that I am capable of anything I put my mind to. Knowing the impact I am having on these kids and their families’ lives is the reason I do what I do.”

Eid explained that the club wants to bring more awareness to the difficulties of hospitalized children especially in light of the pandemic that has made social interactions quite isolating.

“There is nothing that can allow us to understand the true difficulties of being hospitalized as a child unless you have been in those shoes. A child deserves a true childhood beyond the walls of a hospital, playing outside and enjoying growing up,” Eid said. “It is more difficult now that there must be a barrier placed between the children and everyone else to keep them safe. It is important to bring awareness to those who need it most and put our efforts into making these children feel happy, healthy, and safe.”

The requirements for members to join are that students should not only have a positive attitude, but also a passion for making a difference in the community. They also encourage that students are in good academic standing with the university, though it is not required. AMoM welcomes any student who enjoys working with children to come and see what the organization has to offer.

“Each member has a different set of talents and skills that contribute to making our organization an inclusive, welcoming, and rewarding experience for all. We are so excited for the future of A Moment of Magic at FAU and to see the actual magic it will create throughout our community,” Cassese said.

Darlene Antoine is the Features Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].