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.
Thirty-seven year old Ami Ankilewitz weighs just 39 pounds; he suffers from a rare disease called spinal muscular atrophy, which has prevented his muscles from growing and functioning. As a result, his body is skeletal; his small, fragile bones seem mangled and twisted, thinly covered by skin pulled tight. His eyes stare out dark and black from a gaunt, bony face, which appears too large and too animated for Ami's debilitated body.