Children chant, "Don't give up! Don't give up!" as bubbleologist Geoff Akins-Hannah tries to create a square bubble in a windy gym during his show, "Bubble Wonders," at Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School in Prospect Heights.
The 52-year-old bubble wizard captivates his audience by turning simple bubbles into bubble caterpillars, bubble volcanos, dancing bubbles, bubbles inside of bubbles, and capturing kids in bubbles while conveying an encouraging message.
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"The core theme is 'Anything is Possible,'" Akins-Hannah said. "I try to create something impossible, a square bubble. I intentionally fail along the way to layer in these messages about persistence."
"It is a message of hope, to keep trying, do what you love, don't give up and things tend to work out in your favor."
Before turning his skills with bubbles into a career, he worked as a paraprofessional with Special Education District of Lake County at different schools helping children with special needs.
One summer while playing with a bottle of bubbles at Gages Lake School, Akins-Hannah attracted the attention of a young autistic boy named Jayden -- the floating bubbles took him out of his routine and comfort zone. This chance meeting started Akins-Hannah's interest into a new calling.
He began incorporating bubbles into his part-time magic show and the show quickly became a success, to the point that he had to make a decision on whether to keep his full-time job. One day his supervisor commented, "Some people search their whole life and never really find what they're looking for, and I think you've found it." Akins-Hannah took a leap of faith and quit his job.
The Grant High School graduate, now based out of Woodstock, has been entertaining and educating children and adults for more than 30 years, performing 300 times a year and traveling all over the U.S. and to 10 countries. He's also made television appearances on ABC, NBC, CBS and the National Geographic Channel.
Recently, he was featured in two books, "GPS for Success" and "The Art and Science of Bubbles!" and he co-authored the best-seller, "Empowered: Wake Up and Live the Life You Love."
The bubble master engages children and adults with a sense of humor and inspires awe with a unique mastery of bubble tricks.
"It was a dream come true," Jennifer Flatley said after Akins-Hannah placed her and her 1-year-old son, Declan, inside a bubble at a performance in the Lake Villa District Library. "I love bubbles, and I have always loved bubbles. To come and see the show and to be a part of it was very cool and very special."
During his appearance at Eisenhower School, the gym air conditioner was causing problems for Akins-Hannah throughout his show, but children still connected with the bubble magician and his message of persistence and a belief in oneself.
"You heard it today. It was unbelievable. The air conditioner was blowing so hard that I was having a hard time keeping the bubbles on the wand. The running gag is making that square bubble and it took me several attempts," said Akins-Hannah as he began to choke up while speaking.
"The kids started to chant 'Don't give up! Don't give up!'
"Ninety-nine percent of the time it's me encouraging the audience. Today the 1 percent, the audience, was encouraging me. They wanted to see me succeed. To me, that was magic."