Archives for April 2017

special needs summer camp los angeles

Inclusive LA: Summer Camp for All Abilities

Christmas comes for two weeks every summer for 12-year-old Makenna Ito and her sister Lianne, 7. That’s when the girls, both born with a rare disorder called Cockayne syndrome, attend a special camp that brightens their lives. “Camp is a vacation for them. It’s their Christmas,” says their mom, Noreen, a fourth-grade teacher in Redondo Beach. Though both sisters are non-verbal, it’s clear that Makenna knows when they’re driving to camp. “She raises her hands in the car seat and is ready to jump out before I can unbuckle her,” says Ito. “She cheers like a cheerleader.” Whether they find a fit in a program dedicated to campers with disabilities or a traditional camp that provides accommodations to include all campers, kids...

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los angeles teens

It’s Teen Time at the YMCA This Summer

Cure your teen's summertime blues with free fun at Los Angeles YMCA locations this summer. Ages 12-17 are invited to visit the Y during June and July for free meals provided by the Los Angeles Unified School District, part-time jobs through the city and county of Los Angeles and swimming, basketball, fitness classes, free Wi-Fi and exclusive teen programs. Enrollment begins May 1 at all Los Angeles YMCA locations. All teens enrolled must attend an orientation session with a parent or guardian. Learn more at

Learning About Rancho History – and Service Dogs!

If your family is headed to one of the monthly Creation Station art workshops or other family events at Rancho Los Cerritos (4600 Virginia Rd., Long Beach;, keep an eye out for Marcia Harris and her canine companion. A longtime volunteer at the rancho, Harris also raises service dogs. Harris began volunteering at the rancho, an historic adobe house and surrounding property dedicated to inspiring curiosity about the past, in 1969, while she was still a college student. Eventually she also devoted time to puppy sitting for people raising service dogs. In 2010, she took on the responsibility of...

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Air Travel Practice For Kids With Autism

Faced with a challenging task, most of us would like a practice run before we tackle the real thing. Just in time for summer vacation, Open Sky for Autism offers a bit of practice for people with autism who might find air travel difficult. The event takes place May 6 at Air Hollywood, a unique aviation-themed entertainment studio equipped with everything you would find in a commercial airport and on a commercial flight. Participants will experience airport arrival, check in, baggage check, TSA security screening, waiting in the departure lounge, boarding, an in-flight simulation (including some turbulence) and deplaning. The...

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Safe and Sensitive Sunscreen

Sun protection is a year-round necessity in Southern California. But what if you have a child with sensitive skin or a teen battling acne? Dermatologist Paola Rodriguez, M.D., from Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center, shares great options for every skin type. How does sunscreen protect our skin? There are a couple of different ways in which sunscreen can protect our skin. Physical sunscreen, which some people would call a sun block, is actually reflecting the UV light away from our skin. It uses particles like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and they bounce the light right off. A chemical...

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Don’t-Miss Events for May 2017

There’s fun coming under the Big Top, on the big screen, under water, in the air, on Sesame Street, in the strawberry patch and the Arroyo this month. Check out these great events for families in L.A.

accessible los angeles

Out, About and Inclusive In L.A.

There was a time when “accessible” meant someone with a disability could get in the front door, and maybe up to the second floor – and after that they were on their own. These days, accessibility goes way beyond that, and many L.A. attractions are making it part of their mission. “Accessibility is more than just adding a ramp,” says Peter Martineau, marketing events manager at Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. By the Sea Lots of family attractions and cultural institutions – even cities – are becoming more inclusive of those with disabilities. “Inclusion is one of the...

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On the Record: Keeping Up With the Joneses

My daughter Sofia is turning 6 years old this summer and when I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday, she said, “I don’t want to have a party. I just want a cell phone.” I was dumbfounded because I don’t understand why she needs a cell phone. Who would a 6-year-old be calling or texting? How did she go from last year’s princess ice cream party to a cell phone for her birthday? I quickly offered up other options, but she was quick to defend her request by asking, “If my friends have one, why can’t...

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early childhood special needs

Inclusive L.A.: The Preschool Launching Pad

Choosing a preschool is a process so fraught with confusion and pressure that some have quipped it is as difficult as choosing a college. While that might be an overstatement, for parents of children with disabilities, choosing a preschool can be an especially challenging and frustrating experience. Preschool is usually the first time parents send their kids out into the world. With a dizzying array of options, financial and other considerations, parents of children with disabilities must make the best decision they can while still adjusting to their child’s unique needs. It’s Worth the Work Numerous studies have shown the...

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Inclusivity in Hollywood

Inclusivity in Hollywood: Young Actors With Disabilities Find Benefits on Stage and Screen

At first, MacGregor Arney used acting as a way to become someone other than the kid with cerebral palsy. “I just wanted to be normal,” says Arney, who is now 26. When he started taking theater classes at Western Michigan University, Arney’s perspective started to evolve. He began to realize that his CP, which affects the functioning of his left hand and leg, wasn’t something he needed to escape, but something that he could lean into and bring into his acting. During graduate school at UC San Diego, one of his professors, director Kyle Donnelly, pushed him even further, urging...

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