Redefining Play: Introducing Magical Bridge Foundation

Magical Bridge Foundation brings to life truly innovative and inclusive playgrounds for everyone, including the 1 in 5 of us living with a visible or invisible disability.  We believe everyone should feel the MAGIC of play, including children and adults with disabilities and special needs, those from economically challenged homes or underfunded schools, and those who long for a secure spot to feel the freedom of swinging, sliding, spinning, and finding new friends. This is the spirited mission of Magical Bridge Foundation.

Magical Bridge Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. EIN: 81-2377796

Magical Bridge Foundation’s Current Projects

Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto opened to the public in April 2015 and is heralded as the nation’s most innovative-inclusive playground. Magical Bridge Playground in Redwood City broke ground in November 2017 and is expected to open to the public in early 2019. Magical Bridge Playground in Sunnyvale was announced in July 2017 and is currently raising funds for the project, with an expected opening in 2020. Magical Bridge Playground in Morgan Hill was announced in August 2017 and is currently raising funds for the project, with an expected opening in 2020. The Magical Bridge Playground in Mountain View was announced in January 2018 and is raising funds for the project, with an expected opening in 2020. Several other Bay Area and national projects will be announced throughout the coming year.

Magical Bridge Foundation VALUES the unique play needs of everyone in the community

Founder and Visionary, Olenka Villarreal with her younger daughter, Ava, who is the inspiration for Magical Bridge Playground.
Mindfully and universally designed for an everybody, Magical Bridge Playgrounds uniquely meets the needs of everyone, finally including those living with physical and cognitive disabilities, autism, visual and hearing impairment, the medically fragile, and even the aging population.

A Magical Bridge Playground…

  • Gives everyone a safe and fun place to play, regardless of ability, disability, size or age.
  • Nurtures meaningful community connections by serving the entire community.
  • Provides a foundation for a lifetime of kindness and compassion through truly inclusive play.
  • Exceeds today’s ADA playground requirements, and delights everyone!
  • Celebrates play both on and off the playground, through advocacy, outreach and community programs.

It all started with a playground need.

The vision for Magical Bridge was born when Olenka Villarreal discovered her younger daughter, Ava, had developmental challenges. She learned that vestibular movement, such as swinging, would benefit Ava, but her limited upper body strength made holding the swing chains impossible. It wasn’t long before Olenka discovered her hometown of Palo Alto, California could not provide the most basic aspects of play for her daughter.

She wondered where all of the other “special” kids were playing. After extensive outreach and research, she was amazed to discover that despite Palo Alto’s good intentions, not one of its parks is truly accessible.

Olenka joined the Board of the Friends of the Palo Alto Parks in 2008 and decided to make a difference for a forgotten subset of the community. With the encouragement, generous guidance and a land donation from the City of Palo Alto, a vision emerged. After years of research, design, and fundraising, Olenka and her small team of volunteers were able to work with inclusion experts and build this first-of-its-kind playground — where everyone can play. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Magical Bridge Playground is now heralded as the nation’s most innovative and inclusive playground — one that has redefined play.