October 19, 2006
Calabasas evens playing field for special-needs kids
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Playing with other children isn't always easy for Brandon. He's nonverbal and relies on a combination of American Sign Language and a small computer preprogrammed with everyday phrases, including one that lets his family know he wants go to the park.
"He's very excited about the park. Every time he hears 'Brandon's Village,' he says, 'Yay,' and signs, 'Uncle Bruce,'" Kaplan said.
Brandon attends AC Stelle Middle School in Calabasas, where he is mainstreamed in four out of six classes with a modified curriculum.
Like other students his age, he's also juggling studying for his bar mitzvah at Calabasas' Congregation Or Ami, where his father, Michael Kaplan, serves as president.
"We're working with our rabbi [Paul Kipness] and Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe from Adat Elohim in sign language," Dina Kaplan said.
Kaplan said she often joked with people that she wanted Brandon's Village to be completed in time for his bar mitzvah on May 26, 2007. She's both shocked and happy her dream is coming true.
"Now the reality is that he's having his bar mitzvah at Or Ami and the reception at Brandon's Village. I'm really excited about that," she said.
The grand opening of Brandon's Village is Oct. 28, 10 a.m., at Gates Canyon Park.
New! (July 2007): Read about Brandon's Bar Mitzvah here!
For more information, visit
Brandon's Village at Gates Canyon Park http://www.cityofcalabasas.com/recreation/brandons.html
Friedman Charitable Foundation www.friedmanfoundation.com
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