Community, Features

Happy Terrier Walk teams with Earth Day 365 to promote mental, environmental sustainability

Taking terriers on walks outside is a great way to keep them happy, healthy and allow for them to socialize. The same applies to Boston University’s Terriers.

The Happy Terrier Walks program returned from its winter hiatus on March 29, making it easier for students to get outside and meet new people.

Boston University Fitness and Recreation Center. FitRec is partnering with BU Student Wellbeing and Earth Day 365 to host hour-long walks to encourage students to socialize with their peers in nature. MEGHAN SCOTT/DFP FILE PHOTO

The hour-long walks, which begin and end at Marsh Plaza, encourage students to socialize with their peers in nature, according to the BU Student Wellbeing website. The program, run by BU Student Wellbeing, restarted this semester in collaboration with BU Sustainability’s Earth Day 365 program, a month-long series of events leading up to Earth Day.

“Sustainability is really about making sure things can last a long time, and that they can be around for future generations to use, and we often forget about ourselves,” said Sam Moller, assistant director of communications for BU Sustainability. “We have to make sure that our mental health is there, our physical health is there and we have to sustain ourselves for the long run.”

Personal care and wellbeing is neglected in the conversation around sustainability because people have a tendency to limit the discussion to the environment, Moller said.

“We had such a love for the idea of the program and it aligns so well with the spirit and mission of Student Wellbeing. We still wanted to see it through,” said Pedro Falci, the director of the wellbeing project within BU’s Office of Student Wellbeing.

Falci credited Yael Rudelman, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, with the idea for Happy Terrier Walks last summer.

When Student Wellbeing collaborated with Rudelman, the goal was to make a communal, collaborative event out of something she does in her everyday life, Falci said.

They also partnered with BU’s Fitness and Recreation Center to promote the walks for their physical benefits.

Chi Vu, a graduate student in the College of Communication and graduate assistant at FitRec, has attended two walks and created promotional content for FitRec’s Instagram page.

“Our generation [cares] more about our wellness,” Vu said. “They want to get to know more people on campus because BU is a huge community, and they try to take advantage of every opportunity they can.”

Sonya Nguyen, a graduate student in the School of Public Health, has been leading the walks since the first one last fall. She said she heard about the walks when she began as a graduate assistant for Student Wellbeing in the fall.

Nguyen said she gravitated toward the program because it “hit almost all the checkboxes” — meeting new people and walking the Esplanade.

The early sunset and cold weather of Boston winter put a pin in the walks in December, but the program got back into motion on Friday as the third event of Earth Day 365. This semester, the walks take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., according to the BU Student Wellbeing Website.

Earth Day 365 started last year as a way to make sustainability and Earth appreciation more approachable, Moller said.

“We wanted to make Earth Day and sustainability really accessible across the university,” Moller said. “So this is an opportunity for people, no matter where you are at BU, faculty, staff, or students. You can participate in sustainability around Earth Month.”

Film screenings, sustainable cooking demonstrations and scavenger hunts are just a few of the upcoming scheduled events, Moller said.

The walks will continue every Friday through April 26.

As end-of-semester nerves draw near, Terrier Walks will provide a space for Terriers to take a break, socialize, spend time in nature and remember that personal wellbeing is worthy of sustaining, Moller said.

While the idea behind the Terrier Walks program is not novel, with the competing priorities among students, it ends up becoming an important part of their day, Falci said.

“What students would tell me is, number one, they were really glad they came,” Falci said. “And number two, ‘we knew we needed this, but we didn’t realize how much we needed it.’”

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