Winter Quarter 2019

Perspectives in Assistive Technology


David L. Jaffe, MS
Lathrop Library, Classroom 282
Tuesdays & Thursdays from 4:30pm to 5:50pm

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Thursday, February 21st

photo of Olenka Villarreal

Field Trip to the Magical Bridge Playground
Olenka Villarreal, Jill Asher, and Jay Gluckman
Olenka is the Founder of the Magical Bridge Playground

Magical Bridge playground logo

Abstract: Of the 34 existing public parks in Palo Alto today, not one has been built with everyone’s unique physical and cognitive needs in mind. Most of the playground designs are similar and do not reflect the many different types of people living in the community - those with autism, visual and hearing impairments, cognitive challenges, and even older adults. The urgent need to create a playground that would surpass ADA standards was the drive behind the vision for a new kind of playground - one designed for everyone. The $4 million needed to create such a place was raised privately in less than two years. Created by a team of inclusion experts and located in Palo Alto’s Mitchell Park, the Magical Bridge Playground broke ground in June 2014. Now that it is completed, it is the nation's most innovative inclusive playground.

Biosketch: With an undergraduate degree from Pomona College and MBA from Golden Gate University, Olenka Villarreal spent 18 years working with start-up and technology companies in Silicon Valley. When her second daughter was born with disabilities in 2003, she turned her focus on improving the quality of life of those with disabilities. Olenka serves on the Board of Directors for the Palo Alto Unified School District's Community Advisory Committee for Special Education, on Life Services Alternatives in San Jose, and is Vice President of Friends of the Palo Alto Parks. In June 2014, Olenka was presented with the prestigious Jefferson Service Award in recognition of her efforts to make the Magical Bridge Playground a reality.

Contact information:
Field Trip Material:
Map & directions from Stanford
Video - not available
Photos - 2.17 Mb pdf file
New Playgrounds: Morgan Hill - Redwood City - Sunnyvale
A Playground for the Entire Community - Nicole Ofiesh & Lisa Poller - 10/12/2018
15 Coolest Playgrounds in the United States
"Kindness is Magical"
Palo Alto’s Magical Bridge Playground serves as model for other cities
Sunnyvale to build an ‘all-abilities’ playground at Fair Oaks Park
All-Access Play
Jefferson Award Winner Creates a Playground to Include Kids of All Abilities (with video 3:06) - 07/09/2014
Ground Breaks on Magical Bridge Playground - 06/24/2014
Palo Alto breaks ground on Magical Bridge Playground - 06/23/2014
Magical Bridge Playground on Facebook
Magical Laser Harp - video (0:52) by artist, Jan Lewin
Magical Harp at The Magical Bridge Playground video 3:05
Stepping Sounds - George Zisiadis
Building a Magical Bridge for All Children - Bay Area Parent
Magical Bridge Playground in Redwood City
Magical Bridge Playground in Mountain View

Updated 10/12/2018

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