Wellness Center welcomes Thursday therapy dogs


Eric Hong

Junior peer counselors Daisy Tseng and Michelle Shen work in the Wellness Center with Cape, a therapy dog.

Noor Naji, Opinion Editor

Since its opening last year, the Diamond Bar High School Wellness Center has become a support outlet for many DBHS students and a center of improving emotional wellbeing.

Sandy Davis, adviser for peer counseling and founder of the Wellness Center said that it has been “doing surprisingly well.” They’ve had over 240 student visitations since the beginning of the current school year and over 400 student visitations since opening on Feb. 1.

Recently, the Wellness Center announced that therapy dogs will be on campus every Thursday. Davis said that research has shown that dogs calm people who are stressed. One of the school psychologists, Lori Lowe agreed with that assessment.

“[Therapy dogs] are a way to get people to open up and relax, and dogs have unconditional acceptance. People feel accepted by them and therefore relax,” Lowe said.

Lowe, who has been working in the district for 25 years as a psychologist, thinks that the wellness center is “something that’s been needed for a long time” and an “added resource.” She believes that the Wellness Center allows stressed students to “process with their peers” instead of immediately being referred to a school psychologist.

The Wellness Center was initially created as another venue for students to express their stress. Moreover, Davis also says that stressed students might find talking to a peer less intimidating than adults.

“That’s what the Wellness Center was all about, giving students another layer of support…I feel like we’re making a difference. Student by student, by making kids feel more confident,” she said. “[In the Wellness Center] you actually talk about what’s bothering you, and then we brainstorm with our resources, on how to go about coping with your problems better.”

Fifteen more students have been trained as interns for the Wellness Center.

Wellness interns are required to have at least a year of peer counseling training and must also be interviewed by Davis herself, to be Peer Counseling adviser, Albert Lim and school psychologists Stacy Woodward and Lowe.

Applicants must also have two staff recommendations and commit to summer training.

The Wellness Center has become increasingly involved in campus activities, as it has multiple events coming up.

It received the Inspired Changemaker award sponsored by Yale University, the Center of Emotional Intelligence and Facebook, which recognized DBHS as one of the top ten schools nationally for their efforts in relation to emotional well being.

Davis, senior Brandon Tang, President of Peer Counseling and Principal Reuben Jones traveled to Facebook headquarters last October to receive the award.

However, despite its success, Davis stated that all of this came with several challenges.

Last year, she was both teaching full time and developing the Wellness Center.

However, by Fall  2017, Davis will be involved with the Wellness Center full time.

In an attempt to raise money for the Wellness Center, Davis has taken DB Forum, usually held twice a year on campus, “on the road.” She plans to serve as host of the ticketed event at Valencia High School in January.

“I’ve always had high expectations [for the Wellness Center], but what I didn’t anticipate was that it was going to happen so quickly. Things are just falling in place and things are happening so quickly…” she said. “It’s not bad that we’re growing too fast, I just want to make sure that we’re doing a quality job.”