All are welcome to attend this field trip
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.