Events promote mental, physical health, children’s cause

Students at the entrance to the wellness event selling tickets included Taylor Shea, Ashley Coxen and Andrea Nall. (Photo courtesy of Katie Schilling)

A variety of student events held in late March aimed to enhance wellness awareness while raising funds for a good cause. The events generated more than $1,200 for the Josh and Friends Project, an  initiative supported by the UF Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

During “Wellness Week,” the focus was on promoting mental and physical health within the college community while raising funds for the Josh and Friends Project. The money raised will allow SCAVMA to purchase additional “Josh Kits,” which include a plush dog and a story titled “I’ll be OK.”

“The mission of the Josh and Friends Project is to bring comfort to hospitalized children at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital through the strength of the human animal bond,” according to Katie Schilling, a third-year veterinary medical student and SCAVMA’s fundraising chair for the Josh and Friends project.”The project provides them with a ‘hospital buddy,’ a plush dog named Josh, along with his uplifting story, titled ‘I’ll be OK.’

Josh’s story follows him through the veterinary hospital as he experiences an examination, surgery and recovery, learning through his adventures that the people around him are there to help him feel better, alleviating his fears, Schilling said.

“The children are not only able to hold their new best friend, Josh, in their arms, they are also able to find comfort in his story,” she said.

A Zumba class, a kick-off event and a fundraiser at Swamphead Brewery were among the activities held, Shilling said. The kick-off event featured a photo booth, face painting and a silent auction, as well as a spirited “class wars” competition awarding points to the class with the most donations and highest attendance level.


Students gathering around the banner showcasing event sponsors are, from left to right, standing: Luke Viramontes, Katie Schilling, Cynthia Kathir and Dr. William Berkowski; in bottom row, Meera Chandra, Mary Rentfrow, Aslyn Faith and her dog, Kai. (Photo courtesy of Katie Schilling)

“The Class of 2018 won the Class Wars competition and will be rewarded with a Hyppo Popsicle party through the Office for Students and Instruction,” Schilling said.



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