Bay Area Proud

East Bay Teens Take Seniors on Virtual ‘Day Trip' to Help Ease Isolation

'Everybody’s stuck inside. Someone needs to do something that can help even just a little bit.'

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Even before the pandemic started, inside was not somewhere Maddie Freed and Emi Eckhaus wanted to be for too long. The best friends and seniors at Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek were always looking for a good excuse to get out.

"When one of us says, 'Oh, do you want to do this? Or what do you think about this?'" Eckhaus said, the other responds with, "OK, be there in five minutes."

So, the stay-at-home orders hit this pair hard. Still, not as hard as some others, namely, senior citizens living in retirement communities and nursing homes. They are a vulnerable population with strict orders to stay put.

"The elderly are so high risk for the virus," Eckhaus said. "I think we realized that's worse than what we have."

"We just thought they needed something to unite them, bring them together, have a sense of community," Freed said.

So, Freed and Eckhaus came up with an idea, one that got them out in real life and gave seniors a virtual escape.

A video "day trip" the two called it. They went around their hometown of Walnut Creek stopping at well-known landmarks and sharing some little-known history.

Freed and Eckhaus shared in the duties of researching, shooting video and being the on-camera talent. Once edited, they shared their video with more than two dozen senior facilities across the East Bay.

"Everybody’s stuck inside. Someone needs to do something that can help even just a little bit," Eckhaus said.

Hundreds of residents in the facilities have watched their video and one home has even invited them to visit in person when such things are possible.

Until that time, these two are just happy to know they may have provided a distraction to those stuck inside while coming up with an excuse to get outside themselves.

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