Free food and therapy dogs relieve stress at Discovery Park

Free food and therapy dogs relieve stress at Discovery Park

Free food and therapy dogs relieve stress at Discovery Park
April 28
22:31 2014

Tricia Sims // Intern Writer

Free snacks, massages and therapy dogs at Discovery Park will be available to help relieve the stress of students in this last week before finals arrive.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, from the Student Affairs department will host the fifth-annual spring Eagles Refuge, an event for students at Discovery Park to help manage stress.

“It’s also really cool to see something that everyone can relate too,” said Juan Apolinar, student assistant at Discovery Park Student Affairs and computer science senior “I tell them that it is to help with stress for finals. I always get a look like, ‘Oh yeah, I know how that is.’”

Free healthy snacks bought by the department ahead of time will be provided to students. Students are allowed one of each snack, which include fresh fruit, juice boxes and granola bars.

Each year, the Student Affairs department also gives away a prize that it is supposed to be a stress reliever. This year, it is silly putty. At the event there is also counseling for a range of topics, from test anxiety to depression to financial aid.

“This is very much a program in which students stop by for a few minutes then they move on, they are just too busy right now with school work,” Student Affairs Director at Discovery Park Lisa Campbell said.  “So they drop in for a few minutes, then they go to class.”

At the event there will also be two licensed massage therapist hired to give students neck rubs. The professionals scheduled to attend are Joseph Rodriguez, a part-time worker at the Health Center giving massages, and Shirley Portell, an alumni of UNT who has her own independent business.

About seven to 10 therapy dogs will also be there for students to play with.

“The students love it,” Campbell said. “They just sit down on the ground and play with the dog. It really clams and relaxes people. A lot of students, I find, miss their own pets at home so it gives them a little taste of home.”

All these connections come from the Student Affairs’ two-year collaboration with Student Health and Wellness Center. The center teaches stress reduction techniques like: breathing and eating right, getting enough sleep and waking up and exercising a bit. At the event, they will help students make stress balls out of balloons and sand.

“We want to make sure that the students at Discovery Park are managing their stress in a positive way,” Student Health and Wellness Center Assistant Director Kerry Stanhope said.  “We just want to make sure that we provide the resources and educational information to students so that they can do two things: first, identify that they are stressed out, and second, identify positive ways to relieve that stress.”

Apolinar said he experienced the effects of the event last semester.

“A classmate of mine and I had been studying for an exam like crazy and we were really stressing out over it,” he said. “I decided to get a massage and play with some puppies. I looked over my notes afterward and ended up getting an A, while my classmate got a C. I’m not sure if Eagles refuge had a direct connection to it but I definitely felt more relaxed and confident about the test.”

There is not a student services center specifically housed at Discovery Park, so Stanhope said he enjoys hearing from students when he participates in these types of events.

“Stress management is always important, because if you are stressed out it is going to affect everything else in your life, whether you realize it or not,” Stanhope said. “We want to make sure that the students, are managing that stress in a positive way and that they are not taking it out on other people.”

At the main campus, the Health and Wellness Center will also collaborate with Counseling and Testing Services to host an event like Eagle Refuge on Monday through Thursday of finals week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Chestnut Hall, Room 120 A and B.

Feature photo: Eagle’s Refuge promotional poster. Graphic courtesy of Student Affairs at Discovery Park. 

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