Curtin Malaysia students ‘woof woof’ away their exam stress

Students enjoying the presence of animals on campus.

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MIRI, Nov 11: Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) recently introduced animal-assisted therapy for the second time on its campus to help its students relax while studying for their upcoming semester final examinations this month.

This followed the successful debut of the animal-assisted therapy during the first semester this year, which was also a first for tertiary institutions in Malaysia. It was well-received by both students and staff.

This time around, the event was called CV (Curtin Volunteers)! Project Fair and Animal Therapy and was jointly organised by Curtin Malaysia’s Library and Learning Commons and the Curtin Volunteers!, the university’s largest student voluntary organisation.

It involved pet owners within the campus community and members of the public volunteering their pets for an ‘Animal Petting Corner’ and ‘Pet Tour’, where students and staff could interact with the animals.

Many turned out to pet, hug, feed, brush, draw, photograph, sit near, and play with the animals at the outdoor ‘Animal Petting Corner’ throughout the day.

For the ‘Pet Tour’, the organisers and pet owners took the animals on a tour of The Library, 24-hour Study Area and Student Learning Commons to meet and interact with students busy studying there.

The booths and animal petting corner in the garden.

Booths were also set up for a donation drive and charity sales in support of local animal welfare groups and event partners Zero Strays and Animal Hope.

Students and staff could also learn more about animal care at the booths, particularly in light of the current rabies outbreak in Sarawak.

Voting for an Instagram photo competition held from Oct 26 to 30, 2018, was also carried out during the event. Participants of the competition had to take photographs of their pets or of themselves with their pets and share them using the hashtag #cvpawproject.

The winners won Starbucks gift cards.

According to Mac’Earldon Mike Maxwell, Curtin Malaysia’s Head of Library and Learning Commons, academic libraries in recent years have expanded their traditional focus on intellectual and scholarly pursuits, with many libraries now initiating programmes that support student growth, development, and wellness.

He said exam time could be very intense for students in terms of stress and anxiety, and the Library and Learning Commons at Curtin Malaysia believed in supporting the physical and emotional well-being of students during this stress-filled time by providing therapy animals to help them relax.

He added that although providing animal-assisted activities to university students was a fairly new concept, the social and therapeutic benefits of pet ownership or simply interacting with animals were well documented.

“Our experience has shown that interactions with animals can indeed help reduce stress and improve outcomes among our students, and they have been waiting excitedly for this event,” claimed Mac’Earldon. — DayakDaily