Pet Parades Brighten the Days of Distanced MBS Students

Lauren Coyne, Staff Writer

To uplift the spirits of the MBS community in the face of distance learning, the Mental Health Matters club put on two virtual “pet parades” in the final weeks of the school year.  I interviewed club advisor Ms. Jenna Sumner and participant Tim Schietroma on their experiences with the event.

Ms. Sumner

Where did you get the idea for a virtual pet show?  What effects do pets have on mental health?

“Mental Health Matters brings therapy dogs to campus.  Therapy dogs have been known to lower stress levels and have a calming effect for people.  After all they are ‘therapeutic.’”

What was the most difficult part of organizing the event?

“Alex Shah, President of Mental Health Matters, organizes the event and advertises it in the Student Area as well as places it on the Spirit Calendar.”

How did the event make you feel?

“It made me feel very happy, both to see all the students that participated and the dogs were adorable.  Large dogs, like German Shepherds and Labs, to smaller ones like Shih Tzu.  And even some cats showed up!”

Did you enjoy the event?  Why?

“I liked it very much and was proud of Alex for the work she did.”

Was the turnout what you expected?

“Yes, all the club regulars, some teachers, and additional students also!   The only sad part was several students emailed after the event asking when it was and missed the show.  Also, we had two Middle School students attend so we needed to make sure they are aware of it.  Maybe we should start advertising earlier!  We would love to do it again!  And it’s another way to keep our community together.”

Tim Schietroma – participant

How did the event make you feel?

“The event was certainly an uplifting experience, and a needed one in these uncertain times. It wasn’t simply seeing the pets which lightened the mood, but the reactions and enthusiasm of all the pet owners introducing their beloved pets.”

Did you enjoy the event?  Why?

“I enjoyed it a lot actually! I wasn’t sure if I would go, and even when I did I stayed fairly quiet (which contrasts to my personality a lot of the time), but it was a great experience to just observe and appreciate all the different pets, but more importantly to see the love and joy on the students faces.”