Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Intention + Action = Magic!

Today I went to the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, California...
I was tagging along with Torrie Dunlap, CEO of Kids Included Together.

We dished about inclusion and what it means.
We talked mindsets and paradigms.
We lamented how hard everyone makes it...when really all it takes is:
"You wanna play, great! Let's figure it out."

And then we made our way to this playground.
This vision of one mom who happened to have a daughter with some differences.
Olenka's daughter was about 6 when Olenka couldn't shake this idea:
can we build a playground where children of all abilities will be engaged and interested?

What does an accessible playground look like?
Do we really need a playground like this?
Are there really that many kids?

Olenka uses the statistic of 1 in 5.
1 in 5 kids have some type of disability.

That number is larger than the number of women getting breast cancer.
That is super close to the number of second language learners we have in public schools in the state of California. (22%)

It's a ton of kids...
and YES, they need a place that welcomes them too.

Olenka could have just noticed the problem and thought about it.
She could have wished for some place for her daughter, Ava.
She could have just sighed and hoped for someone else to make some changes...

but she didn't.

She searched the internet.
She talked to playground designers and early childhood experts and experts on children with disabilities and then she began to create some ideas of her playground in her mind.
She formulated a plan.
She fund-raised and she got going.

It took her six years to create the Magical Bridge Playground.

Here it is:

Where EVERYONE can play!

A quiet space for children who need to take a break.

Kinderbells...made from used oxygen tanks. 

These swings invite multiple kids to swing together...and have fun together.

The incredible magical harp...triggered by lasers...just makes you want to dance and move to the music.

An ingenious merry-go-round for everybody...a huge hit with all kids.

Some thoughts from The Kindness of my favorite spots.

Olenka's vision focused on kindness...everywhere.
In the rules posted clearly for all to see, within the quotes sprinkled all over, in the opportunities for play for everybody.

Today, on any given day, all sorts of kids with all sorts of family members are having a magical time together...playing and laughing and connecting.

When you go there, you can feel the unity.
You can feel the joy.
You can feel the appreciation of each child.

Tonight I'm inspired, not just by Olenka's intention...
but by her action...
using both, she created some magic...
and we are all better for it. 

Olenka, three cheers for you! 

"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." -- Mark Twain

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