It’s been a difficult year.
For much of it, many people have been stuck inside awaiting the end of the coronavirus pandemic, which to date has killed more than a half-million people in the United States. With the advent of vaccines and warm weather, however, Valley Streamers took to Hendrickson Park and spoke about their hopes for the future.
With the sun shining brightly last Saturday, three teenage friends took a stroll along the park’s path. As they walked, they reflected on the past year and how much their lives have changed, expressing excitement that spring is finally here.
“I’m a skater . . . so I’m so stoked for warmer weather so I can practice more skating tricks on my skateboard,” Valley Streamer Ama Bhatti, 14, said, noting that this was the first time she had been to the park with her friends since the pandemic took hold last March. “I’m not old enough to get the vaccine, but I have many immediate family members who took a vaccine. I’m not sure if I’ll take one because I’m scared that I’ll have a bad reaction due to my other health issues.”
As of Tuesday, people 16 and over in New York became eligible for the vaccine. Trials are still under way, however, to determine if it is safe to administer to teenagers and children under 16.
“I absolutely adore spring because it’s warm out and I can walk with my friends, but so far this spring has been a bit disappointing because the pandemic prevents me from doing more things in bigger groups,” Djeynaba Sakho, 15, another of the trio, said. “Even though I’m not old enough now, I hope to eventually get vaccinated because it would be a dream come true if the world could reach immunity from the virus.”
Tolu Diyaolu, 14, the third friend in the group, said she is excited for warmer weather because she loves to play basketball and to take walks in the park with her friends.
“I hope to get vaccinated because I have no fears about it, and my dad is a healthcare worker and he already got vaccinated and he is fine afterwards,” she said, with a smile, as she continued to walk with her friends. “Spring truly has been bringing up my mood.”
Also at the park that day was Valley Streamer Kathy Grunin, who is in her 30s. She said she has already received a vaccine, and with her newfound freedom, she said she is even more excited for spring.
“It was a tough winter with the pandemic, and I’ve never been more excited for fresh air in nature and a little warmth this year,” she said. “I got vaccinated because I put aside my minor concerns and worries about it, and I felt it was what was needed for the greater of humanity and my family.”
Even with her inoculation, Grunin said she remains cautious, wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.
“I feel we still have relatively high Covid-19 cases, even though I feel a little less anxious . . . I’m not changing my activities drastically yet,” she said. “Getting vaccinated has made me appreciate small things, like feeling more comfortable to go on this walk in the park surrounded by beautiful and peaceful nature.”