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Monday, April 21, 2014 | Last updated: 4:09am

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Therapy dogs help ease finals stress



With finals right around the corner, university departments are working to provide students with ways to relieve stress before exams.

The Student Recreation Center will be offering students massages and leading fifteen minute walks around campus on Wednesday on the UA Mall from noon to 1:30 p.m. It will also host a mini yoga session from 1 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. to help students relax and celebrate the end of the semester.

The Rec Center is working with UA Cares, a campaign that raises money to donate to various non-profit organizations or to the UA Foundation, by offering students a pedometer if they donate to the campaign.

“We just thought this was a great time to tie it in at the end of the semester and also with UA Cares program,” said Michele Schwitzky, senior assistant director for marketing and outreach at the Rec Center.

The Rec Center will choose who the money is donated to, said Sheila McGinnis, director of outreach and community partnerships in the UA Office of Community Relations.

Students can also take advantage of the UA Main Library’s Finals Study Break, where snacks, coffee and drinks will be served on the second floor of the UA Main Library on Sunday night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The library has organized the Finals Study Break for many years. Lauren Ramsey, a public health junior, said that while providing snacks is a great incentive to get students to use library resources, it could also attract too many people to the library.

“It might backfire because [the library] will be very crowded and nobody likes to study in a really crowded, obnoxious place,” Ramsey said.

But students will also be able to take advantage of an additional stress-reliever this semester: Five therapy dogs from Therapy Animals of Southern Arizona will be available for students to pet and play with during the Finals Study Break.

Jake Collins, a graduate student studying public health, said therapy dogs sound like a good idea, as long as they’re kept away from those who might be allergic. Ramsey said that while dogs might be a huge distraction to some, it makes sense that they can help decrease stress.

“I think that students here study for too long of a period at a time. The dog will at least be like a minor distraction to make them ease up on what they’re thinking about,” Ramsey said. “It’ll kind of refresh their brain once they start studying again.”

Michelle Monroe-Menjugas, coordinator of Finals Study Break, said she was looking for a unique alternative for students to relax and focus on something other than their exams for a while.

The Honors College will also have volunteers from Gabriel’s Angels bring three dogs to the Slonaker House Courtyard for honors students to relax with before finals.

“It’s just a chance to take a break from studying or feeling stressed out and calm down and hang out with a dog,” said Susan Kaleita, development associate of the Honors College. “Everybody feels better when they’re hanging out with a dog.”

Kaleita said she got the idea from an alumna who brought her dog by the Honors College house last semester and who volunteers for Gabriel’s Angels as well as other therapy animal volunteer groups.

“The end of the semester can be really stressful for everybody,” Kaleita said. “So taking some time out to connect with somebody furry and adorable can definitely help with peace of mind.”


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