Jeffrey Zuegel is a six-foot Curious George–at least according to his parents. As he ponders the shapes of the swings and the way the structures spin faster each time he pushes them, it becomes clear that his parents have it right.
At Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, Jeffrey is able to fully revel in his wonder. Speeding from one side of the Magical Laser Harp to the other, Jeffrey dances to the music as he creates it, adding his voice to the tune with his shrieks of joy. He’s always in motion, sprinting from zone to zone of the playground to spin around in one of the retreat cocoons or to crawl through the roller table. His curiosity draws him to the kinder bells, where the flowers chime each time he taps them, and then over to the exercise equipment, where he sprints through the air on the outdoor strider. Jeffrey’s visited nearly every zone in the park by the time he stops to relax at a bench in the shade, surveying the scene. Jeffrey’s mom, Lisa, explains that he loves “a bench with a view,” likely because it gives him the chance to observe his world and immerse himself in his curiosity. Looking out at the park from his shady nook, Jeffrey seems carefree, and Lisa attributes much of Jeffrey’s contentment to the inclusiveness of the playground.
“To me, having venues that are very friendly to people with differences is very important,” Lisa says. “Places like Magical Bridge are comfortable for people with differences and it’s clear that they’re welcome here.” Aspects like the chair swings and musical structures make Magical Bridge all the more comfortable for Jeffrey, largely because other playgrounds don’t cater to kids his size and don’t offer the opportunity for him to express his musical aptitude.
What’s more than that is how Magical Bridge also offers Jeffrey the opportunity to effortlessly shift between independent and group-play, a balance that it is important for him to maintain.
On the roller table and at the kinder bells, Jeffrey is free to get lost in his own world. He’s allowed to become single-mindedly focused on getting all the way through roller table or creating just the right sound at the kinder bells. He’s able to create his own happiness, completing tasks independently and in exactly the way he wants to. Yet the second he reaches the retreat cocoon, he can call out to friends to spin him around, depending on others to join him and help him make his experience at the playground as thrilling as it can be.
At Magical Bridge Playground, Jeffery can play by himself or with friends. No matter what, Magical Bridge makes sure kids like Jeffrey are never alone.
— video and article created by Palo Alto High School, Social Justice Interns, Sam Guernsey and Julie Cornfield.