Students find their happy space with the ducks

The quackers help make lunch a social occasion with Kai Paijmans and Naomi Cox. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODOWhen University of Wollongong Wellbeing Centre co-ordinator Naomi Cox extended an open invitation to “Dine with the Ducks”, she didn’t expect so many feathered friends to RSVP.

Around 150 students attended the event held at the university campus at lunchtime yesterday as part of an initiative introduced this year to boost student wellbeing physically, mentally, spiritually and socially.

Ms Cox said UOW Wellbeing, funded through the student services and amenities fee, aimed to “enhance the student experience”.

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“It’s about helping students to be positive and proactive both at university and in their own lives, and we’re doing that through a range of approaches,” she said.

“We have a physical centre on campus where students can come to relax and get information and it is also a referral point for different services on campus and out in the community.

“We are also establishing a campus presence through a series of activities such as yoga and meditation as well as health campaigns and events.

“And we have a strong online presence with a Facebook page and website which contain messages, updates and resources.”

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Ms Cox said Dine with the Ducks was part of UOW Wellbeing’s “Get Connected” campaign.

“This is a focus on the social dimension of health,” she said.

“It’s about social connection and establishing networks at university and in the community, which is important for wellbeing and happiness.”

Sandwiches and soup were given to those who attended the event, and while the ducks mainly stayed on the sidelines of the gathering they flocked to Ms Cox’s side when she sat down for her lunch.

“The scenery and wildlife is a great part of the campus,” she said, “and we wanted to encourage people to take a break from study, sit down and enjoy their surrounds and interact with others.”

UOW Wellbeing ran a health-screening campaign on campus this year and will be holding an event to support Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea on Tuesday.

The centre will also be running events to help students combat stress and maintain a balanced life during the exam period.

“UOW Wellbeing has had a really positive and overwhelming response from students – and we’ve been getting hundreds of people turning up at events,” Ms Cox said.

“We want to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to get healthy, be positive and stress less.”

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