Photography Manager: Brendan Flaherty
As we reach the end of the spring semester’s 5th week, students have begun to feel the stress of tests and homework that come with the end of our first units. Some students just needed a break from it all and to find some sort of comfort.
On Wednesday, February 15th, the Counseling Center and Student Affairs recruited the help of many tiny and very adorable barn animals to help reduce the stress of the students.
This event was called “Barn Babies,” and it included a wide selection of animals for the students to pick from, like bunnies, cats, dogs, chickens, and even a baby goat.
Introduced in 2022, the school put together what they called a “Mental Health for Wealth Week” sponsored by the Counseling Center. They planned up to 15 different events from April 25th to the 29th.
This event was made in an effort to improve students’ mental and spiritual health as the end of the semester approached.
One of those fifteen events was “Barn Babies,” which quickly became so popular with the students that they decided to bring it back for 2023.
Not only would the event be held again, but the number of times that the event would occur was increased.
According to Counseling Center Director Cate Perry and Senior Associate Director Erin Carter, “taking time out to attend to your mental health is a priority.”
Students would line up outside the designated area and wait for an open time slot to hold their beloved animals.
The students were given a small animal wrapped up in a soft cloth blanket to ensure the animal is comfy and won’t squirm around too much.
They could just take a seat, sit back and enjoy a calm and peaceful moment with their new furry friend.
Students were also welcome to sit in small playpens with animals that were set up, fitting two students at a time.
This allowed the students to sit and interact with the cute babies, all while in a safe and secure environment.
The two pens that were set up for students to sit in with animals were designated for three puppies and one small pig. One pen for the puppies and one for the pig.
The use of animals as stress relievers is not a foreign concept to us students. Many students currently own a service or emotional support animal already on campus.
This event, in a way, is an attempt to share the love of these cute animals and to let the students forget their worries, even for a moment.
According to the Administrative assistant for Student Affairs, Karen Pimentel, “students can look for it (this event) two more times, one in March, and one in April.”
“(The) Counseling center is always looking for ways to help our students with stress; and this is one of our student’s favorite ways at reducing stress and anxiety.” commented Pimentel. “The oinking of the pig always makes me laugh.”
According to junior-year student Janelle, “I love animals all the time, and this is a great stress reliever.”
Janelle appreciated the ease of access and the timing of events like these and how they are essential to the health of the students.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Kimberly Scott, emphasized that, “this time of year is stressful for everyone. Rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and substance use has increases during and post pandemic. Counseling Services hosts the Barn Babies as part of our efforts to address the mental health of our community. The program contributes to happiness, lessens depression, and decreases loneliness by providing an opportunity for engagement with others.
When signing up for a time slot with the animals, the line was long and filled with excited students. Nothing but smiling faces and calm vibes could be found during this event.
I personally have gone to this event twice now, first it in 2022 and now in 2023. I have loved both times that I have attended, and I can’t wait to see these cute little creatures again in March and April.