Every child deserves to play. Playgrounds are vital public spaces for community connection and social development. Yet, the average playground is not designed to meet the needs of all those who want to play, particularly the one in four of us living with a disability.

Inclusion is a way of thinking, a way of being, and a way of making decisions about helping everyone belong.

Inclusive play helps develop a true understanding of the world and encourages appreciation of the differences between people. More importantly, inclusive play recognizes our similarities and builds a more compassionate society.

This is the most exciting park in our City’s history. And will put Santa Barbara on the map. ~ Planning Commissioner

Gwendolyn’s Playground will be the first fully inclusive playground in Santa Barbara, enriching public spaces to serve our whole community. We have designed a one-of-a-kind destination experience that will elevate play to be more for everyone, bringing people together in JOY!

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$6MM is needed to build Gwendolyn’s Playground.

$2.5 Kindness Endowment Fund for inclusive programming and long-term maintenance.

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We did it! We met our immediate goal to build Gwendolyn’s Playground. Now let’s ensure Gwendolyn’s Playground is a space of innovation, belonging, and joy forever!


“Play is a fundamental right of childhood” (United Nations) and experts recognize that play is important in practically all areas of childhood health, however, there is not one single park for hundreds of miles along the Central Coast that is truly accessible nor inclusive. In 2018, the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation partnered with the City of Santa Barbara and Parks and Recreation to build the first fully inclusive destination playground in our region. We believe all children should have the opportunity to get to be one of the kids, to be at the center of the fun, and to belong. 

The City of Santa Barbara and Parks and Recreation has generously donated the 10-acres of Dwight Murphy Field land to revitalize this entire city block into the modern activity complex our community needs. In 2022, this project received a $1.5MM federal grant from Representative Salud Carbajal. With broad, diverse support from donors of all economic means, GSF successfully raised $6 Million over a four-year period through grassroots fundraising, community events, and nonprofit and corporate grants. In 2023, Santa Barbara’s City Council voted to allocate $6 Million towards the overall infrastructure costs — matching the funds the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation has raised. 

NOW WHAT? The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation is committed to raising an additional $2.5 Million necessary for an endowment fund to pay for inclusive programming, long-term equipment replacement, and maintenance to ensure this investment remains innovative for decades to come. In partnership with Parks and Recreation, we are actively seeking partners to fund the remaining $4 Million for the sports field complex, which includes a youth baseball field, a turf multi-sport field, walking paths, new fitness equipment, and yoga area. This project is anticipated to break ground in 2024.

2023 is the last year to become a Founding Partner, which includes naming and signage opportunities to reflect your commitment and investment. Additional areas of sponsorship are available. Contact us to learn more. Together, we can cultivate a more inclusive future!


Multi-Sport Field $2MM
*SPONSORED* Magical Tree $2MM
Baseball Field & Family Pavillion $2MM
Accessible Surfacing $500K
Kindness Cafe $250K
Interactive Innovation $150K
*SPONSORED* Inclusive Swings $150K
Climbing Features $150K
*SPONSORED* Slide Hillside $150K
Art Sculptures & Mosaics $150K
*SPONSORED* Sensory Spinning $150K
*SPONSORED* Butterfly Plaza $150K
Music Garden $100K
*SPONSORED* Inclusive Art Mural by Fred Calleri $75K
*SPONSORED* Diversity Programming $50K
*SPONSORED* Kindness Garden $50K
*SPONSORED* Chrysalis Calming Pod $50K
*SPONSORED* Toadstool House $50K
*SPONSORED* Gathering Zone $50K
*SPONSORED* Inclusive Library $50K


Inclusive, innovative, whimsical and fun, Gwendolyn’s Playground is a place to spark wonder in every age. Our custom, one-of-a-kind multi-story Magical Tree is the centerpiece of this space, filled with art, imaginative play, STEAM interactive experiences, and allowing for the exploration and full accessibility of every visitor. Using Universal Design and with consideration of the many ways we learn and grow, this sensory-rich environment removes the physical and social barriers of today’s typical playground. Here EVERYONE belongs and has opportunities to challenge themselves, play side-by-side, and have fun together. These experiences foster life-long lessons of cooperation, empathy, and kindness.

The vision to build Gwendolyn’s Playground alongside sports fields and accessible pathways and gardens is essential for meeting the needs of all community members and will create a true synergy for community activity. When you include everyone in the community, it becomes a thriving gathering place, bringing people out of the shadows, and making this world a whole lot kinder. 

Inclusive + Fun

Thoughtful equipment, color, and design invite people of all abilities and ages to play together.

Safe + Accessible

Secure fencing offers fully accessible entrances, and play spaces are free of prohibitive bark or steps.​

Innovative + Sensory-rich

Multi-level imaginative play structures break the mold of traditional playgrounds to engage diverse learning styles and ignite all five senses.

Educational + Connecting

A thriving gathering place for a community that provides opportunities for inclusive programs and educational outreach events.

Founding Partners

We are so grateful for the support of our Founding Partners in this private/public/nonprofit project. Join us in leaving a lasting legacy by building inclusion for all. Recognition of your community investment will be artfully displayed within the playground. Sponsorship plaques and field naming opportunities are limited. Please contact us to get involved or learn more: [email protected] or donate directly here. A limited number of commemorative pavers can be purchased here.

NEVER GIVE UP Partners $150K+

  • $2,075,000 – MAGICAL TREE donated by Manitou Fund and Nora McNeely Hurley
  • $500,000 – SLIDE HILLSIDE donated in Memory of Norman F. Sprague III by The Sprague Family and The Mildred E. & Harvey S. Mudd Foundation
  • INCLUSIVE SWINGING donated in Memory of Jack Bonelli by Bonelli Family, Feeding Littles, & Bapron Baby
  • SENSORY SPINNING donated by Grassini Family Vineyards
  • BUTTERFLY PLAZA & LITERACY PROGRAMMING donated by Robin & Roger Himovitz
  • BUTTERFLY SCULPTURES ~ sponsorship available
  • MOSAIC ART ~ sponsorship available

RAINBOW Partners $75K+

  • REFLECTION GARDEN ~ donated by Emmett Fahey and Sharon Chandran
  • INCLUSIVE ART MURAL by Fred Calleri donated by The Foley Family Charitable Foundation
  • Smidt Family Foundation
  • Alice Tweed Tuohy Foundation
  • Shannon & Neil Young

BUTTERFLY Partners $50K+

  • Bella Vista Designs, In Honor of Nana Zellet
  • Carlo & Dionne Brignardello
  • Claassen Family
  • Deakyne Family
  • CHRYSALIS CALMING POD donated by Deckers Outdoor Corporation
  • MUSIC GARDEN donated by Grace Fisher Foundation
  • Hutton Parker Foundation
  • KINDNESS MOSAIC donated by Steve & Cindy Lyons
  • TOADSTOOL HOUSE donated by Montecito Bank & Trust
  • DIVERSITY PROGRAMMING donated by Mosher Foundation
  • KINDNESS GARDEN donated by Natalie Orfalea Foundation
  • Paskin Family Foundation
  • GATHERING ZONE donated by Rudi Schulte Family Foundation
  • LITTLE INCLUSIVE LIBRARY donated by Yardi Systems

FRIENDSHIP Partners $25K+

  • Kelly & Kevin Almeroth
  • Ann Jackson Family Foundation
  • Avexis/Novartis Gene Therapies
  • Bartolo Family
  • BMW Santa Barbara
  • Jason & Brienna Cohen 
  • Crossfit Pacific Coast
  • Delio Family
  • Duo Events
  • Alex & Casey Fang
  • Festivals 4 a Cause: Schwabecher, Powers, Olson & Hawkins Families
  • Roger S. Firestone Foundation
  • Greene Family Foundation, In Loving Memory of Teya Sterndahl
  • Belle Hahn, The Little One Foundation
  • Lily Hahn, The Lucky One Foundation
  • Kyle’s Kitchen
  • Philipp & Calle Posch
  • Leanne Schlinger & Family
  • Lynette & Jason Spievak
  • Twining & Winn Families

KINDNESS Partners $10K+

  • Artiste Winery
  • GRANDPARENTS BENCH donated by Vivian Chandran
  • Brian Coryat
  • COX Charities
  • Crane Country Day School
  • Katie & Erick Crocker 
  • Ben Curtis & Shelby Scudder
  • Fess Parker Winery 
  • Andrew & Ivana Firestone
  • Gardner Grout Foundation
  • FRIENDSHIP BENCH, Girl Scout Troop 50396
  • Larry & Robyn Gottesdiener
  • In Memory of Aiden Henderson
  • GRANDPARENTS BENCH, In Honor of Laura & Frank Haywood
  • Jaffurs Wine Cellars
  • Analise Maggio
  • Lewis A. Kingsley Foundation
  • Jesse Licht & Molly Tollesfson

KINDNESS Partner $10K+

  • Montecito Firefighters Charitable Foundation
  • Sarah & Ryan Muzzy
  • Nye, Stirling, Hale & Miller, LLP
  • In Honor of Asher, Beck, Sky & Stella, Pirozzi Family
  • Santa Barbara Foundation
  • In Memory of Owen Shuler
  • Catherine & Matthew Stoll
  • GRANDPARENTS BENCH donated by Ellen Strong
  • Larry & Marina Weiss
  • Williams-Corbett Foundation
  • In Honor of Jordan, Arnold Family
  • B&B Foundation
  • Chris, Kara & Chloe Bellamy
  • Beth & David Boire
  • Patricia & Paul Bragg Foundation
  • Bristol-Emmett Family
  • Bethany & Jeremy Bodenhamer
  • In Memory of Paul, Chapman Family
  • Santa Barbara Band of Chumash Indians Foundation
  • John & Deneen Demourkas
  • Dolotta Family Charitable Foundation
  • Peter Douglas Foundation
  • Jasper & Brook Eiler
  • Jill Ellis Makeshift Studio
  • Akasha & Rowan Farber
  • Fell Family
  • In Honor of Finn the Fighter
  • In Honor of Matthew & Erika Fisher
  • Jordan Fishman
  • In Memory of Ava Francis

COMMUNITY Partners $5K+

  • In Memory of Callie Golden
  • Greg Goodman
  • Patrick & Diane Hall
  • Hayward Lumber
  • Josh & Yessica Holloway
  • In Honor of Josh Hyman, Zach Hyman
  • Karie & Aaron Ide 
  • TJ & Lisa Jackson
  • Blake & Emily Jones
  • Junior League of Santa Barbara
  • Kacie Jean Photography
  • Kanowsky Family
  • John & Cassie Keister
  • Amanda & Travis Lee
  • Lucas Lilley Foundation
  • Kristin Linehan
  • Jose & Mary Lopez
  • Magid Family
  • In Honor of Taysen Langstraat, Manna Insurance Group

COMMUNITY Partners $5K

  • Laura Menke
  • Dennis & Carolyn Miller
  • Jennifer & Jon Miller
  • In Honor of Zoey, Needham Family
  • George B Page Foundation
  • Ani & Justin Pollack
  • Riviera Ridge School
  • Paul & Emily Ross
  • Sierra Vista High School
  • Randy Solakian Estates Group
  • Anita L. Stafford Charitable Lead Trust
  • Robert & Tracy Stoll
  • Dsara Storment & Family
  • Darren Tepper
  • Jennifer Yau Photography
  • Zarley Family Foundation
  • Zia Group
  • Santa Barbara Zoo


Gwendolyn’s Playground was inspired by Gwendolyn Strong, a tenacious Santa Barbara child born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Gwendolyn made friends wherever she went and lived a very inclusive life: attending mainstream public school, dancing hip hop in after-school enrichment, participating in three half marathons, and having regular playdates with peers. However, when it came to enjoying the most basic childhood right of passage, there were no playgrounds in the region accessible to her wheelchair and needs.

By giving everyone a chance to play together, Gwendolyn’s Playground truly serves the whole community, in which children of all abilities can participate and enjoy equal opportunities to flourish. Gwendolyn and her peers showed us that friendship has no limitations.


Gwendolyn’s Playground is an integral component of a re-imagined 10-acre public space, which includes building new year-round tournament-grade sports fields, a fitness area, walking paths, picnicking, public art, gardens and more at Dwight Murphy Field. An area one block from East Beach and directly across from the Santa Barbara Zoo, this redevelopment will foster tourism, and community engagement, and will be a popular highlight of our beautiful city.

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