On heels of finals week, therapy dogs help students relax BY MICHAEL GRIFFITH

Play-time with therapy dogs, the first event of the Jerry Falwell Library’s “De-Stress For Exam Week” began around 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Fifteen minutes before the event was slated to begin, students began congregate in the Lower Esbenshade Atrium. As 3 p.m. approached and passed, students came in droves, until nearly one hundred people had gathered.

Around 3:10 p.m., just as peers moseyed by the scene wondering about the occasion, four fluffy, vibrant dogs went scurrying into the crowd, and were met with shrieks and squeals from joyful students.

Bystanders could hear exclamations the likes of “He’s so cute!” and “I want that one!” and “My heart is so happy!”, accompanied by expected awes and giggles.

The dogs were decked-out in Christmas ornamentation, from jingle bells to Christmas-patterned straps around their fur.

Paw Service

A middle aged-couple, Mark and Vicki Miller, stood nearby, giving students introductions to the dogs’ names and breeds, and hurrying from place to place to make sure the dogs didn’t wander off. The Millers, who are both Liberty University employees, are also the four dogs’ owners and trainers.

The Millers, who see the dog events they do as ministry opportunities, have been bringing their therapy dogs to “De-stress Week” in the JFL ever since the inaugural event in Fall 2016.

According to Mr. Miller, “During finals when it’s a stressful time, for a few minutes you can put that away. All of the sudden the dog is the focus of everything. You just sort of let go of everything… People just smile.”

The Millers with their dogs

Schoolwork Awaits

Just three days away from the start of finals, students welcomed the break from schoolwork.

“People love a reason to stop studying,” says freshman AnnaGrace Guffey, “I think [the event] is brilliant. It brings people together.”

The Jerry Falwell Library’s customary end-of-semester “De-stress Week,” runs for seven days through the end of finals.

Other program features this year include:

  • free popcorn and cotton candy
  • massages with trained therapists
  • Christmas crafts
  • board games and puzzles
  • Virtual Reality video games

According to Joshua Waltman, the JFL Director of Learning Commons, who helped plan this year’s events, “I think the message we want to send is that we hope students keep a healthy perspective during a very stressful time of the year. Their grades and projects are very important, but we also know that unhealthy forms of stress can actually be detrimental to their academic success.”

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Broadcast Script:

The Jerry Falwell Library kicked-off their “De-Stress for Exam Week” on Dec. 10//

The program activities feature therapy dogs/ free food/ massages/ crafts/ board games/ Virtual Reality video games/ and more//

Students should expect to find popcorn and cotton candy on the first two exam days/ Tuesday and Wednesday/ from 2-4 PM in the main lobby//

The JFL Director of Learning Commons says the message the library is trying to send to students is that they hope students keep a healthy perspective during a very stressful time of the year///

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