Winter Quarter 2024

Perspectives in Assistive Technology


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

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Thursday, February 15th

photo of Olenka Villarreal

Field Trip to the Magical Bridge Playground
Olenka S. Villarreal
Founder and CEO of the Magical Bridge Playground

Magical Bridge playground logo

Abstract: Despite the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is astounding that most playground designs still fail to consider the 1 in every 4 of us living with a visible or invisible disability today. A park outing with her whole family was behind Olenka's vision to create a new kind of playground, so she could play with both her daughters who had very different needs. The urgent need to create playgrounds that would (far) surpass ADA standards was the drive behind the creation of the Magical Bridge Playground whose goal was to bridge the gap between those with and without disabilities in a most magical way! Olenka and a team of volunteers raised over $4M to make the first Magical Bridge Playground a reality in Palo Alto's Mitchell Park. After opening in June 2015, it received worldwide recognition as the "nation's most innovative inclusive playground" and was even featured at the 2019 Davos World Economic Forum. Due to demand for more like it, Magical Bridge Foundation was created in 2016 and there are now 12 Magical Bridge destination playgrounds under way locally and around the world. In addition to the magical spaces they create, the foundation provides truly inclusive multigenerational programs for every "body" to enjoy - both on and off the playgrounds.

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 various boards, including for AbilityPath and Life Services Alternatives. Olenka has received recognition and awards for her pioneering work on Magical Bridge and holds a few design patents for inclusive playground equipment.

Contact information:
Lecture Material:
Field Trip Photos:
Photos - 1.25 Mb pdf file
Photos from 2020 - 1.56 Mb pdf file
Slides from 2021 - 2.94 Mb pdf file
Magical Bridge Playgrounds bridge the gap between abilities (with video 3:56)
Today’s Playground - Why isn’t it designed for everyone?
A playground for everyone, no matter your age or ability (video 7:16)
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
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
How to Make Laser Cut Maps of Your City
A playground for everyone, no matter your age or ability (video 7:16)
Building The Bridge Documentary about Magical Bridge Playgrounds (video 9:48)
Magical Bridge Foundation's Inclusive Playground for All Ages and Abilities (video 2:36)
Intentional Design (TEDx Talk video 20:49)
Magical Harp at The Magical Bridge Playground (video 3:05)
Magical Laser Harp - (video 0:52 by artist, Jan Lewin)
Virtual Tour of Magical Bridge Playground coming to Sunnyvale's Fair Oaks Park (video 1:00)
We All Deserve a Place to Play - Jill Asher (TEDx video 16:20)

Updated 02/16/2024

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