'Let's make the best of it': Neighborhood creates hopscotch chalk challenges to keep busy during COVID-19

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In the Capital of Silicon Valley, where much is influenced by tech, some residents are drawing up connections by simply using chalk.

It's hopscotch with a twist! Residents in San Jose are creating sidewalk obstacle courses to keep busy during COVID-19.

Just north of Downtown San Jose, in the city's Northside neighborhood, Katie and Tom Webster created an elaborate chalk challenge.

They said it provides a good distraction while still encouraging social distancing for their neighbors in isolation.

"After the 14th walk of the day, we thought, let's do something that's different," Katie Webster told ABC7 News. "And instead of walking, we have kids that can do a little exercise, and bounce around a little bit, and be kids."

Part of their obstacle course included spinning, stomping, and sprinting. Though the challenge doesn't stop there.

"When she told me about it, I thought it was going to be just our house," Tom Webster said. "It ended up going three houses down!"

Katie added, "I kind of figured it was going to. It's just my personality."



Both say the obstacle course is something they can enjoy from a safe distance.

"It's great entertainment for us. We can sit on our porch and watch all the neighbors run by- goofily walk like a bear, or do jumping jacks or sing the 'A-B-C's.' It's been a lot of fun," Tom added.

The Webster's said more adults have taken on the obstacle course, including their neighbor Paul Marshall.

"I think the bear crawl was the most challenging part," Marshall described. "As I get older, it's a little harder to bend down and do some of those movements. Dancing with the stars hasn't called me yet."

The Webster's also included a singing portion, where guests are challenged to sing the alphabet.

Marshall shared video of his completed challenge. He screamed the song loud enough for everyone to hear. (He will probably have to wait on that call from American Idol as well.)

"Laughter really is a true form of medicine and it's something that I do all the time," Marshall said. "I enjoy seeing people laugh and making people laugh. I don't care about making a mockery of myself."

After each challenge, residents reach for a squirt of hand-sanitizer.

Farther south, residents in the Thousand Oaks neighborhood shared the same idea.

"This is the chalk challenge course," Jason Soyster said. "It's actually the second one that we've done. The first one got washed away with the rain a few days ago."

Soyster and his family added math problems, puzzles and piggy banks to their obstacle course. A welcome distraction from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'm no artist, but with a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of chalk, we kind of brought it to life with all the space that we had from one edge of our property to the other," Soyster shared.

His children are 6 and 8-years-old, "There's only so many times they can ride their bike up and down the street," he added. "So things like challenge courses make it really interesting and fun."

"It's nice to know that we're contributing in some positive way during an otherwise kind of not-so-fun time," Soyster said.

Both chalk challenges prove it doesn't take much to help build a better Bay Area.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel. This is a finite amount of time that we'll be doing this," Marshall told ABC7 News. "So, let's make the best of it, and just know that everyone is feeling an uncertainty... and it's okay to feel that."
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