We brought Attitudes in Reverse to our campus for Welcome Week in August. This five-day program for our new students has over 100 mandatory and optional sessions, and so many of them are nervous and anxious about starting college, in addition to missing their pets from home! The line to spend a few minutes with the AIR dogs and teams wrapped around the entire second floor of our student center and is one of our most popular events every year. I can’t thank AIR enough for their partnership, and I can’t wait to bring them back in December to provide a little stress relief during finals.
The AIR In Their Shoes display is a favorite for both students and staff at Mercer County Community College because it sends such a powerful message: You never know who around you is suffering. The clear takeaway is to be kind to all and to be supportive of those struggling, without judgment. In these uncertain times, an attitude of kindness and empathy is more important than ever. The increased need for mental health resources, especially after almost two years of pandemic stress and upheaval, is apparent. Last but not least: the therapy dogs!!! They are a real treat, and provide much needed comfort, especially after seeing such a moving exhibit.
The importance of having a dog in memory care can be seen immediately. The moment a wagging tail walks through the door, smiles plaster on our residents’ faces. Having the ability to pet the dog, cuddle, & even play, brings back powerful memories. Those are the moments that are treasured. A dog truly does leave footprints on our hearts.
It was such a wonderful visit! Just taking the dogs to the office, we were stopped multiple times by students and adults in the building who just lit up and asked to pet them. The students were so excited to see the dogs and were so amazed that we were able to have them in the school for them.
One young man said “This is the only time you will see my sensitive side – when I am with animals, I am happy.” Another student came back to our office upset later in the day and said she had been having a really rough day but when she came during lunch and saw the dogs, they made her feel calm and happy and she was okay to make it through most of her day. Our staff members said it was like a gift for them to have the dogs in the office during the day – they said they thought is meant as much to them as it did to the students. Our principal said she wants the dogs here all of the time!
I have such a strong connection to these animals and I truly believe they positively affect people of all ages. They seem to have an innate sense and so many of our students truly come alive when interacting with the dogs. They truly are furry little healers. Thank you again for coming to our school and sharing. So many students came to my office to tell me how much they loved the program and how hearing Kenny’s story moved them. Keep doing what you are doing. It helps so many.