Canines, Students, and Seniors: Valentine’s Day at Missionwood Retirement Resort

The B.A.R.K. team were thrilled to return to Missionwood Retirement Resort for our very special Valentine’s day event!

“Scheduled intentionally on Valentine‚Äôs Day, this event sees therapy dogs act as social catalysts bringing together volunteer undergraduate students and seniors in an attempt to bolster well-being for the young and old” – John-Tyler Binfet, Program director

This event saw a team of student volunteers, 8 therapy dog-handler pairs, and over 50 residents of Missionwood connecting with one another on this special day.

“Everyone who participated in today’s event left with huge smiles on their faces. It goes to show, no matter your age, a dog will always bring you joy!” – Madisyn Szypula, student volunteer

In his latest article for Psychology Today titled Therapy Dogs Can Unite College Students and Seniors, Dr. Binfet shares more about students’ and seniors’ shared experience of loneliness and how we can combat this through interactions with therapy dogs: “College students are not the only population characterized by elevated loneliness; seniors too are known to experience loneliness. They too may face challenges as they transition from independent living to communal housing in retirement care facilities where they must establish new social networks. Therapy dogs are known to bring people together, uniting different people through conversation.”

“It was wonderful to watch the therapy dogs bringing joy to everyone and to see students and seniors connecting so easily” – Freya Green, program coordinator

“Introducing the B.A.R.K. program to a senior retirement facility provides an opportunity for volunteer undergraduate students to experience an aspect of life outside the campus and connect with members of the community they likely would not have an opportunity to meet….” Read more

We would like to thank Missionwood Retirement Resort, the B.A.R.K. handlers, and the student volunteers for making this event possible.

You can read more about our Valentine’s Day event through Dr. Binfet’s Psychology Today article, or check out B.A.R.K’s features on Castanet and KelownaNow!

Photos by Freya L. L. Green.