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Pre-K for a Day

On May 6th, a small team of Honors scholars organized an event called Pre-K for a Day as the culmination of a semester-long research project on anxiety. Our goal was to fill Centennial Mall for one afternoon with arts and crafts, sidewalk chalk, Play-doh, 90’s music, and other nostalgic forms of childhood fun and relaxation.

This project was a unique opportunity offered by Honors 251: Citizen and Self. Under the guidance of Dr. Alex Olson, our small seminar group was allowed to set the direction of the class. We began the semester by proposing social issues which interested each of us, and found that we all had a common desire to explore the topic of anxiety. We divided into two-person research teams that focused on various aspects of anxiety, such as gender and anxiety, college-specific anxiety, animals and anxiety, and medical interventions for anxiety.

Once we compiled this research, we drew on what we felt were the strongest commonalities, and brainstormed project ideas that seemed to synthesize our individual findings most effectively. We cycled through multitudes of ideas for anti-anxiety events: from the most absurd—a puppy musical—to several more ambitious projects that would have exceeded our budget. Meanwhile, Dr. Olson obtained an Honors Faculty Engagement Grant that allowed us to cover the expenses of our project. We eventually decided on an event that could offer a little something for everyone!

The research pair focusing on college-specific anxiety issues interviewed campus counseling professionals and found that students need healthy social outlets during times of stress. Thus, the primary focus of Pre-K for a Day was to promote an atmosphere of care-free fun and relaxation. We also distributed anxiety-relief bags packed with goodies to release endorphins and fliers with anxiety management advice.

We hope Pre-K for a Day helped ease the stress of finals week—if only for a couple of hours. In addition to this, we hope that students gained awareness of anxiety, as well as tools, coping strategies, and knowledge of anxiety resources on campus that they could carry with them after the event.

At every step along the way, we were encouraged and challenged to think creatively and critically, and we were excited to know that our ideas could have tangible results on campus or in the community if we put in the necessary effort. This is only one of many amazing scholarly opportunities possible through the Honors College at WKU.

By: Emily Woodruff

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