The City of Santa Clara is getting ready to break ground on its first all-inclusive playground.
“It will provide distinct zones of play,” said Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor. “Each zone will focus on a specific modality of play offered in multiple different ways. It will both welcome and address the physical, cognitive, and social needs of all playground guests regardless of their ability and foster positive connections with others.”
The City officially announced its partnership with the Magical Bridge Foundation on Sept. 19. The two will work together to build an all-inclusive playground on an acre of land in Central Park. The new playground will replace the wood and cement playground off of Kiely Boulevard near the Central Park Amphitheater.
During the event, Mayor Gillmor and Magical Bridge Foundation Co-Founder and CEO Olenka Villarreal signed an agreement to allow the Magical Bridge Foundation to oversee the creation of the park.
Villarreal says the all-inclusive playground will be so much more than simply ADA compliant.
“Unfortunately, playgrounds today that check the box of ADA compliancy really are just providing access to somebody in a wheelchair,” said Villarreal. “The reality is that 10 percent of people with disabilities are wheelchair users, so nobody’s considering the needs of the other 90 percent; the people who have a cognitive difference.”
The City has allocated $1.8 million in funds for the playground and the county has almost matched that amount with more than $1.7 million in funding. It will now be up to the Magical Bridge Foundation to raise an additional $1 million through corporate sponsorships and donations from residents.
Once the funds are raised, the groundbreaking can begin.
“As soon as we get the funding, from that moment to the actual opening ceremony, you can probably plan on about a year because we have to get through the approvals for the design and then there’s some site work that happens and then the construction can typically take eight to nine months,” said Villarreal.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg and State Assemblymember Kansen Chu attended the signing event. Both Chu and Ellenberg have pledged to help with the fundraising efforts.
“I will be here for the groundbreaking, I’ve committed to helping with the fundraising and I will certainly be here for the ribbon cutting,” said Ellenberg. “I think it is so exciting to be in a position to bring together different levels of government, private and public sectors to create something of incredible value to the entire community.”
This will be the sixth all-inclusive playground the Magical Bridge Foundation has helped build in the Bay Area. Villarreal says this one will hold a special place in her heart.
“For me it’s personal as well as professional,” said Villarreal. “My husband who grew up in Santa Clara and was born here, it’s also exciting for our family to be here…over the years Robert and I have gotten to know so many people that are from Santa Clara.”
To donate to the Magical Bridge Playground, visit magicalbridge.org/donate. People who donate $300 will receive a special recognition somewhere within the playground. Donations of $10,000 and up will have their name prominently displayed inside the playground.