Keri Bowers is an autism advocate. She’s a speaker, author, filmmaker, mother, and the founder of Pause4Kids. Normal People Scare Me—her 2006 film made in conjunction with her son, an aspiring filmmaker with autism—interviewed 65 people with autism, exploring seldom-asked questions such as “Do you like being autistic?” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Through her films, Keri has spread awareness about autism-spectrum disorders and other disabilities, but her work gets far more hands-on as well.
Pause4Kids aims to improve the quality of special education, empowers parents to support their children, and advocates for children’s legal and civil rights. Following a whole-child philosophy, the organization’s volunteers believe that special education should cover a variety of disciplines, including the academic, social-communication, emotional, and recreation realms to enable youth with disabilities to thrive among their peers. Staff members also sponsor a monthly advocacy group and regular recreational activities, such as Art-A-Thons and Abilities Awareness events.
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Comedy does not have to be crude. At least, this is the premise that co-creative directors Tim Kanter and Jeremy Zeller operate under during their Clean Up Comedy improv shows. In 90-minute, family-friendly performances, Tim, Jeremy, and an ensemble cast of comedians build jokes and etch out scenes from audience suggestions. A diverse group, the troupe of actors, writers, amateur magicians, and pie-eating contestants makes up routines on the spot from seemingly disparate words or phrases. Each show's audience fuels the comedic fodder with shouted suggestions or even by helping on stage, keeping every performance as fresh as a backtalking daisy.
Monarchs National Gymnastics Training Center furnishes the facilities and equipment necessary for young tumblers to develop their skills. The center staffs experienced coaches to teach students during sundry group classes that encourage camaraderie. Choose any four consecutive one-hour classes for aspiring Olympians or unwittingly aspiring Olympians, including co-ed kinder classes designed for ideally low-to-the-ground toddlers or a boys-and-girls tumbling session—for ages 6–18—that teaches kids the easiest ways to catapult themselves out of a room during awkward silences or boring lectures. All-girls and all-boys classes are available for kids aged 6–18, and a girls' cheer class prepares sprightly young ones for futures as high-school pep leaders.
A red carpet leads the way past a cluster of spotlights, and two large lacquered doors grant access to a low-lit room. Conversation buzzes, layered over the underlying thumping of music that emanates throughout the space. It's the quintessential modern nightclub, but Sunset Room is alive with old-school Hollywood glamour; it's decorated with crystal chandeliers and dark wood, aesthetic touches that are the very antithesis of stale chain restaurants or picnic tables set up in a cave. In the dining room, white tablecloths rest beneath the light of flickering candles, and small plates encourage sharing bites of flatbread and steak sliders. Reserved seating can make guests feel extra special, and live bands and DJs start dance parties on the dance floor. A team of mixologists also arrives on the scene to shake and stir a variety of craft cocktails and drinks at the towering bar.
The elegant mixture of cuisine, libations, and decor that constitutes Sunset Room is the brainchild of Chris Breed and James Ashford. Since 1990, Chris has been improving nightlife in Hollywood, first with the Roxbury Supper Club and now with Sunset. Chris teams up with James, who has a background as an LAPD officer and a real-estate man.
James Deirmendjian had a decorated career as a brazilian jujitsu practitioner, winning martial-arts competitions and teaching submission grappling. He's parlayed that success into opening Fight Fit Training, where he helps clients get fit through boxing and kickboxing training, kettlebell workouts, and traditional lifting.
Ghouls, goblins, angels, and bumblebee's trample through the friendly filth at the Conejo Valley Halloween Mud Run. Racers sweat in running spandex or costumes as they complete either a 5K or 10K course complete with hay bales to hurdle, walls to climb, and mud pits to throw incriminating evidence into. The prospect of warm showers greets racers as they finish, along with food vendors, exhibitors, and live music. Racers power through the muck in groups of 75–100 fellow crazies, each affixed with an electronic chip for accurate race timing.