Kelowna Therapy Dogs Hit the Web – Kelowna Capital News

Canine therapy has gone virtual at the BARK program in Kelowna.

Building Academic Retention through K9s (BARK) is a student support program, run by UBC Okanagan, that aims to help more people with their new online platform.

Virtual sessions are available on the UBCO’s website on BARK goes virtual.

Freya Green, the program coordinator, said BARK’s goal is to support student well-being on campus and beyond, for those suffering from homesickness and stress.

“Spending time with therapy dogs improves social well-being,” Green said.

BARK has been helping UBCO students for ten years, but due to the constraints of the pandemic, they have been limited in what they can offer.

Typically, BARK holds two on-campus canine therapy sessions each week. Green said walk-ins are welcome, but many people are still learning remotely or don’t feel comfortable attending in-person sessions.

The group came up with the idea for virtual dog therapy after thinking about “how can we reach students who are off campus?” said Green. “We want to reach people we can’t reach otherwise.”

People over the age of 16 who want to take time to manage their online stress are invited to answer a few questions about their mental health, then watch a five-minute pre-recorded video of a dog handler and his therapy dog .

The BARK virtual program is a collaboration between UBC and Brock University and is funded by SSHRC.


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