Mental Health Wellness Fair

Start Date: 05/22/2019


El Toro High School holds an annual Mental Health Wellness Fair. In addition to HOPE AACR, there were approximately 15 other agencies/groups from Orange County that provide a variety of services to those in need. The event, set up in the quad area of the school, was well organized as students were encouraged to visit the various booths. Each student had a "passport" and was asked to get a check mark on it as they visited the presenters. Interestingly (and not surprising) the 350+ students who came to see our HOPE dogs did not ask for check marks. Instead, they asked for information such as dog breed and what HOPE does as well as how to get involved with therapy work. The students were extremely respectful toward us as well as with one another. A number of the students who had attended the Fair last year remembered Rustee and asked about Henry. Pam and Jan related very well with the students and observed them closely. As a result, Jan noticed a girl with cut marks on her arms (some fresh, some old). This girl spent several minutes petting Sequoia and a student behind her seemed to be comforting her by stroking her hair. Jan shared her concern with the Intervention Counselor. Meanwhile, Pam went to visit the classroom of limited English-speaking students and shared Rustee with them. A number of students shared relevant comments as they petted Rustee and Sequoia: "Oh, my God, you made my day... I am SO happy!" "I love dogs more than people." "This is just what I needed; I wish I could stay here all day." "Of course, I still have Rustee's card from last year; it is a national treasure." "I have never been happier than I am right now!"

Agency: El Toro High School, Lake Forest, CA

Pam Bertz and Rustee, Jan Heppert and Sequoia