Hot Wheelers Comes to Outside the Box

By Christina Elston

Wheelchair accessibility and new classes are part of the learning center’s expansion.

special needs - outside the box

Classes at Outside the Box include a range of multisensory activities dedicated to building brain development. PHOTOS COURTESY OUTSIDE THE BOX

Outside the Box opened its first 500-square-foot storefront in 2009. The center, devoted to sensory activities that contribute to brain development for ages 8 weeks to 6 years, has expanded a couple of times over the years, and always made good use of the space. There were bubbles. There was paint. There were musical instruments, giggles and squeals. There were parents and kids learning and playing together.

But there were no wheelchairs. And that is about to change.

Outside the Box is moving from its most recent home at the Westfield Promenade into a new home at 20841 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. Just five miles from the center’s prior location, OTB’s new home will add 1,500 square feet of space – and wheelchair access.

Planning for a wheelchair-accessible entrance to the new space gave owner/founder Octavia Lindlahr a dose of inspiration. “We’ve never worked with children in wheelchairs, and I was thinking, ‘Where do these children go to play?’” says Lindlahr. So in addition to making Outside the Box wheelchair accessible in a general way, Lindlahr also decided to add a class just for these children, addressing their special needs.

Weekly Hot Wheelers classes, designed to help kids in wheelchairs build confidence through play and team building, will begin shortly after the center’s Jan. 3 grand re-opening. The classes, held on weekends so that they don’t conflict with children’s occupational therapy appointments, will be open to ages 10 and younger, and will include the same multisensory activities as standard OTB classes, plus upper-body motor-skills activities. “The wheelchair doesn’t stop anything that we do,” Lindlahr says. “We want to take the wheelchair out of their heads. For that hour, I want it to be out of their minds and replaced with what they can do.”

special needs - outside the box

A whimsical forest designed by the Dilakian Brothers and Elza Deco Floral Artistry will brighten the new space.

The décor at the new location should keep little brains busy as well, with intricately decorated walls featuring a whimsical forest full of animals and flowers and a theme of “How We Share Our Planet With Animals.”

Additional classes opening for the first time at the new location include FLOW (Fluid Loving Observant Whole) Yoga, Paint Parties, Robotic Building, Bubble Bath Bonanza and Rough & Tumble.

The grand re-opening event will take place from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Jan. 3, and will include free face painting and visits from special animal guests at 11 a.m. and 1 and 4 p.m. Admission is free, but space is limited. To reserve a spot, visit www.otbee.com or call 818-348-7529.

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