Lauren Levine is settling in with a group of friends apartment to watch “American Idol,” when a look of panic comes over her face. She rummages around, finds her keys and darts out.“I left the hair thing on,” she says when she returns, breathless, from her own apartment downstairs. “I was straightening Jasmine’s hair before we came up here, and I forgot to turn it off. Wow. That was close.” Levine has wide blue eyes accentuated with sparkly eye shadow, and her voice is spiced with a sense of interested wonder.
The city of Calabasas is preparing a play area where the thousands of special-needs children living in the Conejo and West San Fernando valleys can play alongside all children their age. Brandon's Village, the area's first universally accessible handicapped playground, is scheduled to open on Oct. 28 at Gates Canyon Park on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, just east of Las Virgenes Road.
Talia Hill, 11, was born with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and bone deformities. She is hearing impaired, speech impaired, mobility impaired, fine-motor impaired and neither her two arms nor her two legs are the same length. In her short life, she has had multiple surgeries, a hearing aid and has had to take several kinds of medication on a regular basis.