Our dream is that we no longer have to use the words, “inclusive” or “accessible” when building something as simple as a playground.
– Olenka Villarreal, Founder, Magical Bridge Foundation
A town square for the 21st century
Universally Designed* to be a socially inclusive playground for everyone, Magical Bridge finally includes the 1-in-4 of us living with physical and cognitive disabilities, autism, visual and hearing impairments, the medically fragile, and our aging population. The first of its kind, Magical Bridge clearly illustrates how today’s typical park designs overlook so many.
Our story starts with a mom, two daughters and a playground need.
It was only after the birth of her second daughter that Olenka discovered how isolating a playground could be.
A place which brought joy and community connections with her older daughter had become a dreaded outing when she realized there were no parks designed for families like her own. A family, who had two children with very different needs.
Determined to create the kind of outdoor space that both her disabled and non-disabled daughters (and all their friends!) would love, she mobilized a team of volunteers to fulfill a dream to create such a place. While she found many playgrounds designed for the disabled population, none brought visitors of every age and ability group together in the welcoming way she envisioned.
For seven years, Olenka and her team continued to dream, research and raise funds necessary to create a new kind of playground in Palo Alto, California, called Magical Bridge.
The playground opened to great enthusiasm, and today, Kindness Ambassadors roam the park and welcome over 25,000 visitors monthly who come to experience a sense of belonging and fun.
With longtime friend and team member Jill Asher, Olenka created Magical Bridge Foundation as a non-profit organization in 2016. Since then, the success of the playground has inspired an awareness that today's parks leave far too many behind. In response, Santa Clara County allocated $10 million of funds to create more playgrounds like it. New school play solutions are underway as well.
The foundation is beginning to extend their reach beyond the Bay Area and continues to bring the joy of play, kindness and new friendships to as many families as possible.Magical Bridge Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. EIN: 81-2377796