April 18th, 2024

Festival celebrates end of spring term at U of L

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on April 4, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

University of Lethbridge students can see the light at the end of a long tunnel with classes ending this week and exams starting soon.
On Wednesday, the U of L Student Affairs team helped their classmates unwind a bit with a spring carnival on campus in an open field east of the Dhillon School of Business.
The afternoon event, which ran from noon until 4 p.m., featured a petting zoo, carnival food, games and prizes.
By early afternoon, the petting zoo had long lines of students waiting to access the wire enclosure to get up close and personal with various creatures provided by Gentle Giant Acres while others enjoyed semi-sunny skies and warm temperatures sitting at tables or playing a myriad of games on hand.
Natasha Reners and Shaylona Raju-Bunnage of Student Affairs said the event was for wellness and to celebrate the end of the year and student successes as they finished off the year.
Classes end this week, said Reners, “so we chose this week because some students don’t have finals” and they’ll be finishing up soon.
“We’ve called it our spring carnival so it has a petting zoo, a deejay, a photo booth and inflatable games.”
The festival was the first iteration of the event, said Reners.
“We always try to do something to celebrate end of term but this is the first time we’ve done this carnival,” she added.
Tammy Hein of Gentle Giant Acres said her operation has a full mobile division that provides services all around Alberta.
Gentle Giant Acres is a therapeutic social farm which provides life skill activities, equine programs, personal development and more at its location on Highway 52 near Welling.
The petting zoo at the university was designed for mental health, Hein said, with places for people to sit and a lot of space to accommodate people spending a lot of time among the animals.
All the animals are hand-raised. They start in Hein’s kitchen – including birds, bunnies, goats and sheep – so they are extremely accustomed to being handled, she said.
A private sanctuary has operated on the farm with some of the donkeys and ponies coming with various issues. They’ve been rehabilitated them and now know what their job is – to stay, eat and let people pet them, said Hein.
When you’re working around an animal or engaging with an animal, you have to be 100 per cent invested in the moment and focused.
“That connection that they draw out of you makes you forget about everything else. If you move too quickly, they respond. If you move slowly and are breathing with them, they respond. Everything that you do in this moment is ultimate mind cleanliness,” added Hein.
“Animal therapy is a big thing. People have pets for that reason. It’s companionship, it’s connection, it’s non judgmental. They don’t have an opinion about your clothes or what you did yesterday. They’re just dealing with how you are right now.”

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