LCPS ‘buddy bench’ helps kids to never feel alone

In front row, from left, are  Hudson Aelick, Elwood Nicholls, Kayla Eadie, Nathan Quackensbush, Triston Eadie, Charlotte Ziegler, Alexis McGraw, on the bench,  Myla Edralin, Emma Labranche, back row, Lily Simon, Nick Recollet (behind Lily), Casey Bowerman, Harlow Abotossaway, Owen Ferguson, Jaxon Panamick, Doug Recollet, Brooklyn Toulouse, Azalea Anaya and Daniel Fournier. Missing from photo is Ryland Corbiere.

LITTLE CURRENT – Christine Craig’s Grade 3 class at Little Current Public School is hard at work making the school an even friendlier place to learn thanks to the recent addition of a buddy bench on the school’s grounds.

“We recently read a book in class called ‘The Invisible Boy’ and we discussed what it meant to feel invisible,” Ms. Craig told the Expositor. “From this discussion, one of my students shared a story about a time where she felt lonely and left out as her best friend stopped playing with her and started to play with new kids. At her old school, they had something called the ‘Buddy Bench’ which was a place where kids who felt lonely or were in need of a friend could go to make new friends. She explained that if there were other people on the bench you could talk to them and try and make new friends or if other kids noticed you on the bench they would come and invite you to play with them. One day she went to the Buddy Bench and met a new friend that made her feel happy.”

The Grade 3s thought the idea was a good one and decided that LCPS should have a bench like this too. “So we got busy and wrote a letter to (principal) Ms. Case and explained our plan. We even had some fundraising ideas in place to pay for the materials, however Ms. Case said there was some school money for our project so we went ahead and purchased the materials and this past Monday, we got busy.”

Students assisted with sanding the boards and assembling the bench which involved using a drill. Each student took a turn securing the boards in place and then the bench was painted in bright colours and letters spelling out “The Buddy Bench” was then added to identify it as a special bench.

Together the class decided on a special place for their bench in the schoolyard and students went class to class to explain its intention. 

“It was brought to our attention that one of our students cannot access the bench due to her wheelchair as it cannot move easily through the rocks,” Ms. Craig explained. “My students had a brainstorming session and came up with the idea of building a ramp. Unfortunately, this is beyond my building abilities therefore our backup plan for now was to clear the rocks so she could access the bench. Some of my students spent two recesses clearing the rocks using buckets and their hands to ensure she could get to the bench too.”

The Buddy Bench concept is new to the school “and we have some learning to do on how to address problems involving relationship building, however, our goal is to ensure that no one feels left out or excluded. My students have been very attentive to our bench and have been on the lookout for friends in need of a friend,” Ms. Craig said.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” the teacher added. “They are very caring and thoughtful students and will do anything to help a friend in need. I can’t wait to see what else they accomplish this year to make our school a better place. Their enthusiasm and empathetic nature is inspiring.”