Building Academic Retention through K9’s – B.A.R.K

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Building Academic Retention through K9’s (BARK) brings together university students and trained therapy dogs and handlers in an effort to reduce stress, combat homesickness, foster interpersonal connections, and promote the overall social-emotional well-being of students. The program, housed in the Faculty of Education, focuses on first-year students who are at heightened risk of facing challenges involving homesickness and social integration. It offers two types of programming:

1. Intervention studies in which students are paired with therapy dogs to determine the effects of animal-assisted therapy on students’ well-being
2. Drop-In Sessions in which dogs are brought to campus to reduce stress for members of the university community

The program relies heavily upon community and student volunteers.

Donated funds for BARK will support:

  • Research projects:
    • Examination of physical stress indicators in students
    • Studying social skills of students lacking social resiliency
    • Exploring the effects of animal therapy on university students with special needs (e.g., Asperger’s)
    • Research mentorship for student scholars seeking to develop animal-therapy related expertise
    • Costs of ongoing operations

 

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