FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contacts:
Jill Asher
Magical Bridge Foundation
jill@magicalbridge.org
650-520-8512

Jennifer Garnett
City of Sunnyvale
JGarnett@sunnyvale.ca.gov
408-718-2601

Teen Petition Turns Into a Big Win for All: The City of Sunnyvale Commits $1.8 Million to Build Inclusive Magical Bridge Playground

Sunnyvale, CA July 12, 2017 – Kindness and compassion wins again in Silicon Valley as a third Magical Bridge playground will soon be built in the city of Sunnyvale. A teen Girl Scout’s passionate petition to City Council, coupled with the Sunnyvale City Council’s vote last night to partner with Magical Bridge Foundation and the possibility of a Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors grant, is nothing short of magical.

In September of 2016, Esther Lucas of Girl Scouts of Northern California Troop #601666 created a Change.Org appeal to Sunnyvale’s Mayor Glenn Hendricks and the City Council with a plea to create an inclusive play space, like Palo Alto’s Magical Bridge, in her city’s 20-year park renovation plan. Less than a year later, this young community advocate had her wish granted as the City agreed with her call to action. With a room full of supporters, the City Council generously committed $1.8 million towards building a Magical Bridge Playground as part of the already planned renovation of Fair Oaks Park.

“Magical Bridge Playground embodies the innovative and collaborative spirit Sunnyvale is known for. We are truly proud of the opportunity to bring an inclusive playground to our community, and even prouder that a young Sunnyvale resident encouraged us to pursue the idea,” Mayor Hendricks said.

In its partnership with Sunnyvale, Magical Bridge Foundation will not only design the playground but also help raise the remaining $2.4 million needed through foundations, local businesses, and community groups. In response to the urgent need for more truly inclusive playgrounds, Santa Clara County Supervisors Joe Simitian and Cindy Chavez created a matching grant opportunity, which Sunnyvale will apply for in October 2017. However, regardless of whether Sunnyvale secures this grant, Magical Bridge Foundation will ensure all funds are raised and a truly magical playground is built.

Lucas’s play activism was sparked when she spoke with a neighbor who was driving her child to Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, the original location that serves about 25,000 visitors monthly. The Girl Scout is pursuing her Gold Award and thought this project would be a perfect way to invest in everyone in the community where she lives.

Sunnyvale’s forthcoming Magical Bridge Playground will be housed in Fair Oaks Park, a 14.7-acre green space, where many already gather at a skate park, on basketball and volleyball courts and for water play. Fair Oaks is one of 23 parks in Sunnyvale, a northern California city of nearly 150,000 residents and 9,000 businesses, including tech giants like Apple, Google and LinkedIn. The Sunnyvale location will be the third constructed in Northern California by Magical Bridge Foundation.

“Magical Bridge Playgrounds are the type of inspiring creative facilities we aim to provide in our Sunnyvale parks, which are already jewels in our community. We’re thrilled to bring this concept to reality with the Magical Bridge Foundation, and to create an amazing focal point in the greater renovation of Fair Oaks Park,” Sunnyvale Parks Superintendent James Stark said.

The Magical Bridge Playground in Fair Oaks Park will ensure that people of all ages and abilities have access to play and to building community and connections in the thriving city of Sunnyvale. The City’s investment is a commitment to the innovation the region is known for, as well as to serving all of its residents and visitors.

“The concept for Magical Bridge Playground was created out of the same passion that Girl Scout Esther Lucas showed when she raised her voice through a petition to bring inclusive play to her hometown. “It was my dream to spearhead a playground to be fun, innovative and welcoming for everyone,” Palo Alto’s Magical Bridge founder Olenka Villarreal says.

“My family’s two children had very different play needs and I couldn’t find any places where they could both play together. My daughter Ava’s special needs showed that we were one of many families who greatly wanted to be a part of a community but had nowhere to go. I knew we could create a space so magical that everyone would enjoy it. The time had come, at long last, to look beyond just “access” for a wheelchair and go way beyond to designing for children with autism, older and isolated adults, people with sensory and cognitive differences and more. Ava is 14 years old now and she loves to run and giggle through Magical Bridge, where every-“body” is truly welcome and celebrated for who they are.” As co-founder of Magical Bridge Foundation, Villarreal is excited to see her vision for a new kind of play embraced by the strong leadership in Sunnyvale. ”We are thrilled to do our part and help create a more inclusive, kind and healthy community, one playground at a time, which really is magical!”

Access is a critical component of Magical Bridge Playgrounds, mindfully designed to be socially inclusive for children and adults of varying physical and cognitive abilities. One in every five Americans live with some form of disability, making it the largest minority group in the country. While the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 made radical cultural shifts, 25 years later our public parks do not adequately accommodate or welcome autistic, cognitively challenged, visually and hearing impaired, physically limited, and aging populations. Magical Bridge is changing that, using nearly a decade of research, insights from inclusion specialists and advocacy from engaged organizations, corporations, and school partners to create dynamic spaces that welcome everyone.

“Sunnyvale is known for high-quality, comprehensive services to our diverse community, and the Magical Bridge Playground in Fair Oaks park will continue that tradition of excellence,” Mayor Hendricks said.

Esther Lucas will continue to advocate for all the citizens of Sunnyvale and lending her passion for a Magical Bridge Playground even after it breaks ground.

“Truly inclusive play is important to me because everyone deserves to have fun, and it is important for kids to feel like they are a part of the community. Also, it provides a place for everybody to socialize and develop great friendships,” Lucas said.

Visit Magical Bridge in Sunnyvale for information about the playground and ways to support the project. If your company, foundation or community group would like to partner with Magical Bridge Foundation, kindly contact Jill Asher at jill@magicalbridge.org.

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About Magical Bridge Foundation
Magical Bridge Playgrounds are heralded as the nation’s most innovative and inclusive play spaces. Magical Bridge Foundation in a 501(c) non-profit organization that advocates for all by creating playgrounds that are accessible and welcoming to everyone. Kindly visit Magical Bridge online at http://www.magicalbridge.org, on Facebook at http://ww.facebook.com/MagicalBridge, and on Twitter at @Magical Bridge.

About Sunnyvale, CA
Sunnyvale is a city that has thrived with evolving industries, from the era of railroad expansion and thriving fruit orchards to military/aerospace and now high tech. Today, it is best known for booming businesses, high-quality community services and schools, low crime rate, and award-winning parks. Learn more about living in and visiting Sunnyvale at http://sunnyvale.ca.gov/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CityofSunnyvaleCA, and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CityofSunnyvale.