Media Contact:
Jill Asher
Magical Bridge Foundation

Kaiser Permanente Gives $150,000 to Ensure All Kids Have a Healthy, Happy Place to Play in Redwood City

REDWOOD CITY, CA June 16, 2017 – Magical Bridge Foundation announces a generous gift of $150,000 from Kaiser Permanente to ensure that more kids and adults have opportunities to play together outside.

All children should feel the magic of play, including children 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, which now includes playground partner, Kaiser Permanente.

The donation will fund the Kaiser Permanente Kindness Corner inside Redwood City’s Magical Bridge Playground and will serve people throughout the county and beyond. Residents will join students and staff from local schools in an accessible, dynamic space within the playground to meet, learn and find joy in being compassionate, active upstanders. Magical Bridge Playground in Redwood City is the second location built by the Foundation, expanding the efforts of the innovative Palo Alto location established in 2015, which serves 25,000 people per month.

“Creating environments that extend access and promote kindness and compassion creates a ripple effect that reaches across Redwood City, the entire Bay Area and beyond. This playground builds the social connectivity that is consistent with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and is essential to helping communities thrive,” said Sheila Gilson, Senior Vice President and Area Manager for the Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center.

Magical Bridge Playgrounds are changing how communities meet and play. The impact is also personal for Magical Bridge Foundation founder Olenka Villarreal.

“We created Magical Bridge Playgrounds to serve families like ours, where our two children have very unique play needs. It was my younger daughter Ava that awakened an urgent need for a different kind of playground. I discovered none of our public parks addressed her play needs. We wanted to have a place so ‘magical’ that the entire family would enjoy. And now that we have Magical Bridge, the impact on Ava has been profound and those long indoor therapy appointments are a thing of the past. Incorporating the needs of everyone when building a public park leads to a more inclusive and healthy community,” Villarreal said.

The Kindness Corner will be open to the public and also used by students from local schools, who will convene there as a part of their anti-bullying curriculum and positive discipline philosophy. A wall with words about kindness in both English, Spanish and Braille will be mapped out by local school children, including the student council of Hawes Elementary, a Redwood City school community of “engaged learners who think critically, globally and compassionately” through academics, arts, social activism, technology, and wellness programming.

“Our school stands on three tenets – be respectful, be responsible, and be safe,” Dr. Rosell, principal of Hawes Elementary said. “We teach our students that being a good, contributing citizen is critical. We tell them, ‘What do you want to do to contribute? All of us are able to contribute.’ This playground is a conduit for our students to play and connect with people who may have challenges, and to live out that tenet of being respectful.”

Students from Hawes, Redwood City and Belmont-Redwood Shores School Districts have invested more than time and enthusiasm for the playground which breaks ground in fall, 2017. They made a monetary gift of $25,000 to the Foundation, all raised in a coin drive that inspired students to do more than collect change. Together, they sold lemonade, set up bake sales and taco stands, and encouraged neighbor donations, all with substantial results.

“The personal involvement and commitment from Redwood City school children demonstrates how important this project is to them. Based on our many years of investing in community health, we recognize that having local community support in place is critical to the success of any effort to effect positive, sustainable change,” said Stephan Wahl, Community Health and Benefit Manager, Kaiser Permanente.

Access is a critical component of Magical Bridge Playgrounds, designed to be socially inclusive for children and adults of varying physical and cognitive abilities. Nearly one in 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.

Kaiser Permanente’s grant is an investment in improving the holistic well-being of individuals and the greater community. A core belief of its mission is that all people deserve the chance to be healthy – well beyond medical care and doctor offices.

“Instinctively we know that being outdoors has a way of making us feel better, and research has established that having access to natural outdoor areas is vital to our overall well-being,” said Bill Firtch, MD, Physician-in-Chief at Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center.

Kaiser Permanente affirms that wellness requires health of mind, body, and spirit, calling on studies that show how people benefit by spending time in parks and green spaces.

“The alignment between Kaiser Permanente and Magical Bridge is important because meeting the growing, complex needs in our communities requires an inclusive approach that brings diverse organizations and individuals together toward like goals. This approach helps us make an immediate and lasting impact that helps individuals, families and communities thrive,” said Stacey Wagner, Public Affairs Director, Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center.

This thriving community now includes a student council committed to finding the right bilingual words and phrases to fill the Kaiser Permanente Kindness Corner. It involves teachers who are working to build a curriculum that shows children real ways to impact the world they walk – and play – in. It is comprised of the Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, hundreds of neighbors and volunteers, and all those people who will have a playground to call their own.


About Magical Bridge Foundation
Magical Bridge Playgrounds are heralded as the nation’s most innovative and inclusive play spaces. Magical Bridge Foundation advocates for all by creating playgrounds that are accessible and welcoming to the whole community. Kindly visit Magical Bridge online at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @Magical Bridge.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 11.8 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to:

About the City of Redwood City
Redwood City is a San Francisco Bay Area community located in the heart of Silicon Valley. With 82,881 residents and 255 sunny days a year, this vibrant city is an entertainment hub and technology-rich place to live and visit. Visit Redwood City online at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @RedwoodCity.