Peery Foundation grants $1 million for disability playground


The Peery Foundation will donate a $1 million matching grant to build a playground for disabled children and adults at Mitchell Park, members of the project said today.

The Magical Bridge playground will offer special equipment for children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities, autism, sensory problems and visual limitations. It would be the first of its kind in the country, proponents said.

The Magical Bridge Project has received $1.1 million in individual donations toward its $3.1 million goal. The Peery Foundation will match up to $1 million in funding for donations received on or after April 19.

The grant, plus the $1 million in matching funds proponents hope to secure would allow the project to break ground by this fall, project founder Olenka Villareal said. The Friends of the Magical Bridge Playground hope to secure all funding by June 15, she said.

"We are inspired by the vision for this park. Palo Alto is full of wonderful parks, but this will be the first that allows all children, many who have had to watch from the sidelines, to fully participate in play with friends and family. We invite existing and new donors to find the generosity needed to make this park a reality," Peery said in a statement.

More information about the Magical Bridge Project can be found at

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Posted by parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 18, 2013 at 12:34 am

Thanks!!! I'm in. This is a great project, can't wait to see it finished.

It takes a monumental amount of work to get to this point - thanks also to all the community volunteers and people in the parks and rec.

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Posted by Addison parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:32 am

On behalf of the Palo Alto community, I would like to express my gratitude towards the Peery Foundation and the many volunteers of the Magical Bridge Playground.

This playground will be loved and used by our ENTIRE community - but this playground embraces more than kids in wheelchairs. The planners and designers designed the park for our children with autism, sensory integration issues, the blind, and those with physical limitations.

It is sad that there is not one park in Palo Alto (or in the United States) that does not take ALL the needs of our children when designing a park or play structures.

I am also delighted that this park will be right behind the NEW Mitchell library - such a great location for EVERYONE to enjoy.

Palo Alto and the bay area is full of generous and giving donors. I sincerely believe that the community will step up and help get this park built in the near future.

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Posted by Adobe
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:40 am

Yes, cannot wait for the new playground. We also donated to the cause, and it will be great to see what is pretty much dead space now put to such good use.

And although I too am glad it will behind the new library, at the rate they're building it, I'm almost afraid that the playground will be completed before the library! Really kind of pathetic, especially when you see how quickly the new shopping center on San Antonia has shot up out of nowhere in such a short time.

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Posted by Olenka Villarreal
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:03 am

REAL magic has come to the Magical Bridge Playground by way of the wonderful Peery family! We are deeply honored and grateful that this generous family has chosen to support the project in such a magnanamous way. Their commitment to our community is truly incredible.

To echo comments made by "Addison Parent" above, this playground is not JUST for the disabled. It is expressly being designed for ALL children and families, but we are finally including the needs of the disabled in each and every aspect of the park. Today's parks no longer serve the community at large and this park changes that. Parks should be a place where everyone can play!

We can't wait to bring inclusive play to Palo Alto and to everyone who comes.

Please support us at Web Link

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Posted by Jean
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:08 am


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Posted by Mark W.
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:29 am

So glad to learn this group has stuck with this project all these years! I am not one with the kind of money needed for this park, but hope the (many) wealthy dot commers will step up and help this group ASAP.

Peery family is a class act. Thank you, Magical Bridge team and Peery family, for working on getting this playground for Palo Alto.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

What a wonderful donation - thank you!

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:48 am

Hooray Peery Foundation! We are proud of your work.

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Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:50 am

Thank Goodness - the Magical Bridge is taking forever to get built. I hope they can get it going, it's such a great idea and needs to come to fruition.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 18, 2013 at 11:06 am

Addison parent,
That was a lovely note that expressed better what I wanted to say.

You make a really great point about "universal design". There's a difference between making "accommodations" and designing for everyone. When I was in college, it was always such a challenge to interact normally with a good friend with CP because he couldn't just travel the same routes to class, often the elevators were made so the non-wheelchair users couldn't go along, and they malfunctioned and stranded him more than I care to think about. It's not really a small thing, because so much social interaction happens between class, and when you are already in a wheelchair with a disability, it's a big deal. He had a motorized chair for independence, and yet the lack of universal design prevented him from a lot of the normalcy he and those who cared about him would otherwise have had.

I tried to make those points about universal design in the new bond construction at Gunn at least, and those in charge would just answer that they were making things "accessible". They just didn't seem to understand what a different universal design makes.

Thanks so much to everyone involved in making this visionary and wonderful place a part of our community. Thanks to the Peery Foundation!

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Posted by Wheeler
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 18, 2013 at 11:44 am

As a parent of small children -- and I happen to use a wheelchair -- I am very excited about this park. It will allow me to interact with my children in a new, profound, and natural way. Many thanks to the Magical Bridge folks for getting this going and special thanks to the Peery Foundation for pushing it over the top.

Lets get this built !!

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Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2013 at 11:58 am

Addison Parent and Parent -

FYI - At the new library we will also have the new Ada's Cafe! This is all very exciting and gerat news for our area!
I have attached the info and the link
Ada's provides jobs and ongoing training for adults with disabilities in its food service businesses. Currently Ada's is a catering business and will open its Cafe at the new Mitchell Park Community Center in Spring 2013.
Web Link

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Posted by Olenka Villarreal
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Thank you, KP, for sharing the magical connection to our playground cause with Ada's Cafe.

Both Kathleen (Hughes) and her wonderful son Charlie are long-time Magical Friends and we are planning to collaborate with the Cafe and staff in various ways.

We are excited to let you know that there will be a colorful Ada's Cart buzzing through the playground in the afternoons, offering Ada's tasty organic snacks to park-goers. There are magical opportunities abound for involvment from Kathleen's team, Abilities United and AchieveKids. It really is a magical location evolving and we can't wait to include so many of these special individuals who are members of our community.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Very very cool!!! Thank you Peery family, once again!

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Posted by Hays Dad
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Thank you to the Perry family for your generosity and compassion. This Magic will benefits children and familes from many communities who will at last be able to experience joys of a playground that the rest of us have always had.

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Posted by DGN
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Thank you Peery family, for all your generosity to our city. On behalf of so many people, thank you!

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Posted by Ready to Play!
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I am so thrilled that this group never gave up their dream of building this park. We have a son who is autistic and going to a park has become increasingly difficult. Having a space that has been created for kids like him will be a dream come true.

Peery Foundation, thank you for helping in such a big way!

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Posted by Greg
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 19, 2013 at 9:28 am

Would love to hear more details about this park. Could the Weekly do another write up and educate us on it? Sounds exciting!

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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm

A BIG thank you to the Peery family for their generosity. An even bigger thanks should go to Olenka Villarreal for dreaming of this project and making it happen!

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 19, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Like Greg, I would like to see more written up about the park too. It sounds like the kind of place that everyone will enjoy and I can't wait to take my kids there. Very glad that the funding is coming but it sounds like they need more. I'll be donating tonight.

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Posted by Olenka Villarreal
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Just wanted to thank those who posted your supportive remarks about our project, and for recognizing the profound generosity of the Peery family.

It has been a (long!) labor of love for us to get to this stage and we look forward to finding the funds needed to get to the finish line. If you are able to help us, please do. Thanks so much and have a magical weekend!

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