Jill Rubinstein Parks Conservancy Supporter

This year has been anything but ordinary. Together, we’ve experienced uncertainty unlike anything we’ve ever seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the uncertainty and unknown, I’ve been able to discover a light in the darkness: parks.

I remember feeling so anxious when the statewide shutdown first began in Pennsylvania. To ease my anxiety, I reached out to my dear friend, Linda Williams, to see if she’d like to walk together in Frick Park. Our schedules never really aligned until life stopped. We then came to rely on our daily visits together. Like people drink coffee, I couldn’t continue my day without my walk and talk with Linda in the park.

The first week of the shutdown was such a scary time. Everything was so uncertain but taking our daily walks in the park was the one thing we could count on. We experienced a feeling of hope in the park and felt a ‘nature high’ that positively impacted our physical, and most important, mental well-being as we connected with the outdoors. Our experience was like reading a really good book - every time you read it you find something different even though you’ve read it a million times.

Most of all, Linda and I hoped that our parks would remain open throughout this uncertain time. My friends abroad weren’t allowed to leave their homes or go within a certain distance, and in some places, they shut down parks completely. I was so afraid that our parks would close here, especially because we started to rely on our daily visits to maintain our physical and mental health.

Parks are one of the few recreational activities that remained open and accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve walked in many different parks, over the course of a couple of seasons, but Frick is our favorite because of its ease and beauty. We experienced snowflakes falling all around us during our walks in March and then the intense heat from the summer sun as we walked in the middle of July.

We found hope in the parks because they allowed us to navigate through the daily trials and tribulations of life with COVID. Changes were happening all around us, but we worked our way through each day by reflecting in the park.

Our parks have never been more important. We all need this extra safe space for breathing and respite. It takes all of us to keep parks open and accessible spaces, so they can continue to provide so many of us with the respite and enjoyment we all need during this time.