Photo: Patrick Kelleher

The second annual Mind, Body and Soul festival begins today in the quad behind the Student Centre. Events today include tie-dying T-shirts, a petting zoo and a self-defence class. The inaugural festival was held last year, introduced by then Welfare and Equality Officer, Maeve DeSay. The festival will finish tomorrow.

Current Welfare Officer, Clare O’Connor, believes that last year’s festival was a success. “It was such a good initiative started by Maeve and it was really successful so we’re hoping just to bring it from strength to strength this year.”

One of O’Connor’s new additions is based on an initiative begun in New York City called “take a seat, make a friend.” The adult ball pit is designed for students to “get people talking to each other and making friends.” O’Connor stated that the idea is for students to sit down and begin talking to strangers by opening a ball with a topic of conversation inside.

In a collaboration with DrawSoc, a “stress release” colouring tent will also offer students an opportunity to relax, along with laughter yoga and introduction to meditation.

O’Connor also outlined that the main stage that had been present last year would not be there this year as “we found that kind of drew away from the events.” However there will be one live music act each day, with FM104 coming to UCD on Wednesday.

Other planned changes include introducing more mental health supports and reducing the span of the event from three days to two. Samaritans will be in attendance along with Headstrong, who will be promoting “five a day for mental health.” This is part of a wider UCDCU policy this year of promoting healthy eating.

Mental Health was a large part of O’Connor’s election campaign last year and she hopes to build on the work of the Mind, Body and Soul festival by hosting a number of mental health days throughout the year. A week promoting mental health was considered but O’Connor claims that she did not believe it would as effective. She explained that she believed that a “constant” support running through each semester would offer students more support.