What do therapy animals, sand gardens, and midnight breakfast have in common?
They are all part of Momentum Week at North Central University to support students through the stress of finals and make it to the finish line.
Stacy (Grogan ’97) Sikorski, MSW, Director of the Student Success Center, collaborated with individuals and departments across campus to create a variety of experiences in the days leading up to finals and during finals week. The goal was to provide outlets for stress, to calm anxiety, or just give students an opportunity for some healthy diversion. The first Momentum week was held last spring and was such a success the activities were refined and expanded for round two in December.
Some of the more popular activities included therapy animals on Thursday and a calming room that was open every day of the week. The calming room activities included a sand garden, stretching activities, bubbles, coloring books, tea, and more.
“Our goal is to support our students in and around finals week,” Sikorski said, noting that finals can produce an increase in stress and anxiety, and that many colleges and universities are being more intentional about providing resources to help students in high-stress times. The activities also provided natural opportunities to interact with faculty, staff, and other students, who could also engage in supportive conversations about coping with papers, tests, and final projects.
Momentum Week activities were sponsored and carried out by many offices and departments to show they were standing behind students. In addition to the therapy animals and calming room, the list of Momentum activities included:
- Free tickets offered for men’s and women’s basketball games
- Student Senate “takeover” of the library
- Early morning prayer
- Commuter Christmas party
- Hot cocoa and pictures with Santa at the Campus Store
- Midnight breakfast (provided by Pioneer Campus Caterers)
- Donuts, hot cocoa, and an encouraging word from the Kappa Delta student organization
- Finals snack buckets placed throughout campus by Marketing
More “official” support resources were offered in the form of expanded drop-in counseling hours and drop-in resume reviews in Career Services.
“We were pleased with all of the cross-departmental involvement,” Sikorski said. “People would just approach me with ideas for how they could contribute and support students. Last spring all faculty and staff members received “Momentum” t-shirts with “How can I help you?” printed on the back. Many employees wore them throughout the week to show their encouragement to students.
James Thao, a senior Music Production major, was positive about the impact Momentum Week had on students, and said, “I’m super grateful for North Central for creating an environment just for students to excel and do the best that they can.”