Every child loves to swing and slide at the playground, and it’s an experience that almost everyone takes for granted — unless you’re a parent of a child with special needs. Although you’ll find wheelchair ramps at many parks, that doesn’t make it accessible for children with impaired hearing or vision, or developmental, cognitive, or sensory disorders.
Palo Alto’s newest playground, the Magical Bridge Playground, promises to change all of that. Located in Mitchell Park, this all-inclusive playground allows children of all abilities feel included and have fun. The playground is in its final phase of construction, just in time for their April 18 opening. I received a sneak preview of the playground, which is sure to become the newest go-to tot spot in the Peninsula and South Bay. Here’s a list of the magical attractions kids can look forward to at this one-of-a-kind playground:
- As visitors cross the main entrance to the playground, a sensor triggers sounds of feet walking through mud, water, leaves, or snow. The entire playground is fenced and gated for security, with wide pathways and plenty of space between playground equipment for strollers and wheelchairs. Park designers have thoughtfully provided a multitude of nooks and crannies for overstimulated children to retreat into, and there are plenty of trees to provide shade.
- The Swinging and Swaying Area features bucket swings for children and adults with limited torso control and disk swings for groups of children. The swaying teeter-totter is wheelchair accessible.
- Every piece of equipment in the Spinning Area is designed to get kids dizzy with delight. Individuals in wheelchairs can roll right onto the merry-go-round, strap themselves securely onto the structure, and go for a spin. Even the cone-shaped rope-climbing structure can spin!
- Music is a wonderful way for nonverbal children to express themselves — but kids of every age and ability will love the Sound Harp in the Magic of Music zone. Twenty-four laser beams run across a giant harp that kids can “strum” to create music.
- Every magical land needs a castle, and Magical Bridge’s two-story Play House and Stage is just what every prince or princess dreams of. The play house features wide doorways, rooms, and windows for the mobility and visually challenged. The second floor of the play house is accessible via a ramp, and looks down onto a stage where kids can don costumes and strut their stuff.
- The Sliding Hill is high enough for serious thrills, yet easily accessible to all. To get to the top, kids can run up a series of steps, climb up with a series of hand rails, or wheel themselves up the play house ramp and across a wheelchair-accessible swaying bridge. Several slides wind their way down the hill; one of them has an extra-wide landing area so kids who need more time to get out of the way can move to the side and let other kids slide.
- The Tot Spot has ride-on animals and a tiny slidefor the playground’s youngest visitors. A set of colorful, flower-shaped bells play soothing chimes that ring throughout the area.
- The Kindness Corner has benches and chess tables for families to get together and relax. The area is bordered by a wall of colorful tiles with words of kindness and inclusion.
To get to Magical Bridge Playground, park at Abilities United, or park at the Mitchell Park Library and cross the bridge spanning Adobe Creek. Restrooms are available at Mitchell Park.
Magical Bridge Playground opens to the public on Saturday, April 18. The entire community is invited to the opening day celebrations between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Activities include a ribbon cuttting ceremony, musical performances at the play house stage, and an open mic session for any budding performer. Details and schedule on the Magical Bridge Playground Facebook page.
About the author: Bonggamom is a a work-at-home parent to a daughter and twin sons. She is balances freelance writing, social media management, and parenting, constantly looking for new ways to entertain her kids while doing as little housework as possible. Bonggamom blogs at Finding Bonggamom and Bonggamom Finds.