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Virtual Well-Being Project Attracts Followers Worldwide

Well-Being During COVID-19 ResourceIdeas for boosting people’s well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic through a University of Guelph virtual project are quickly gaining fans across Canada and worldwide.

The project originated with Prof. Andria Jones-Bitton, a population medicine professor the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). Earlier this year, Jones-Bitton became the inaugural director of well-being programming at OVC.

“We’re helping people to see that, yes, things are different and hard right now with COVID-19, but there are still ways to work around it and engage with well-being activities,” she said.

As of late April, more than 27,000 people from almost 45 countries were following the @OntVetCollege Instagram account for well-being activities and ideas, launched early this spring and promoted through social media.

Content provided under the project through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other channels has been viewed during COVID-19 lockdown more than 600,000 times. Many of those viewers are from Canada, some 60 per cent, but others hail from abroad, including England, Iran, India and Brazil.

“We have a very international audience of people in the veterinary world,” said Jane Dawkins, OVC manager of social media and a project collaborator. “It’s not just specifically for veterinarians. It’s open to the community.”

The COVID-19 well-being initiative grew out of an existing resilience rotation led by Jones-Bitton for fourth-year veterinary medicine students. She invited students in the class to suggest activities as an experiential learning exercise.

Each week, she updates the material, consisting of text as well as illustrations by Alex Sawatzky, an OVC population medicine graduate. A social media team led by Dawkins brainstorms and designs online activities to promote each of eight “domains” of well-being: emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual, environmental, social, occupational and financial.

What started as student stress relief has grown into a social media platform for keeping the rest of the world – or at least a small chunk of it – calm during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Find more information, including past weekly wellness activities, on the OVC homepage at “Well-Being During COVID-19.”

Read the entire article on the University of Guelph website