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Photo Credit: BARK
Due to high demand for UBC-Okanagan’s animal therapy program, they’ve been forced to expand.
Building Academic Retention through K9s or BARK has launched BARK2GO, allowing more students to spend time with the registered therapy dogs.
As part of the expansion, volunteers and therapy dogs will be stations in three campus locations, the Flipke Centre, the Engineering, Management and Education building, and the Library, every Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., allowing students to get some time with the pooches.
“BARK has built a strong identity on campus, and students know they can come and de-stress,” says Charlie Drummond, BARK2GO volunteer coordinator. “The difference with BARK2GO, is that we will be able to offer a quick BARK fix between classes.”
More than 1,000 students line up every semester for some one-on-one time with the dogs at the weekly drop-in space in the Innovative Learning Centre, and the group is outgrowing the space.
The expansion was thanks to Pitch This!, a grant competition on ideas to boost wellbeing on campus which Drummond and fellow student Christy Hui received support through.
“We hope that the outreach will raise awareness about the program,” says Hui, a former BARK participant, and BARK2Go coordinator. “I remember when I was really stressing out in my first year, and I looked forward to coming to the BARK sessions to relax and de-stress. I really hope that BARK2GO will connect with more students, and offer them the same benefits.”
Charlie Drummond and Christy Hui, organizers of BARK2GO (Photo Credit: UBCO)
BARK was started three years ago and has more than 40 community volunteers and certified therapy dogs that help out with the program. It allows students who are feeling homesick or stressed to spend some time with trained therapy dogs.