Landels Elementary School in Mountain View is one of several local schools that received funding this week from Santa Clara County to build an inclusive playground on their campuses.
The county Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday a second $10 million round of matching funds for all-inclusive playgrounds to be built at schools and parks throughout the county, including in Palo Alto, Mountain View, Cupertino, Santa Clara and San Jose.
The groundbreaking playgrounds are designed to include children and parents with physical or cognitive disabilities, with careful consideration paid to smooth surfacing; custom climbing, sliding, swinging and spinning zones that improve balance, spatial orientation, focus and motor skills; and spaces that encourage quiet play. The first Magical Bridge Playground opened in 2015 in Palo Alto at Mitchell Park.
"It's gratifying, and frankly, it's just the right thing to do — to provide all-inclusive places to play and socialize," said Santa Clara County Board President Joe Simitian. "I'm so pleased that our county stepped up to help create more of these innovative playgrounds for all."
Plans are underway for a Magical Bridge playground to be constructed at Rengstorff Park in Mountain View. In June, local students conducted a coin drive to raise money for its construction. The City Council approved the project in 2017, and it's expected to be completed in 2020.
In 2017, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan proposed by Simitian to set aside $10 million in matching funds for all-inclusive playgrounds to be built in each of the county's five districts. This is the second funding round, which Simitian's office said is "designed to leverage additional funds from cities, school districts, philanthropies, and individual donors."
More than 10,000 children in Santa Clara County have "major disabilities" and over 20,000 receive special-education services in schools, according to Simitian's office. But the fabric of the county's schools and parks don't match that reality: Except for the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto and the Rotary PlayGarden in San Jose, parks, no city or school playgrounds, are fully accessible to children or family members with disabilities, his office noted in an announcement.
"These grants show just how much we can do if we partner together," Simitian said. "I hope this will inspire additional partnerships in the coming years."