The buddy bench is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground. Let’s spread the message of inclusion and kindness this school year and every year!

The concept is part of a global trend known as “friendship benches,” or “buddy benches,” which are designed to raise red flags in playgrounds when children need help or feel lonely.

When students are bullied or just not feeling welcome, they are urged to take a seat on the bench. Teachers or fellow students are taught to approach them and ask what’s wrong.

“The buddy bench can be an awareness tool to help young people become even more aware and not be a bystander when they see other human beings in need to help them out.” This is where parents can be more effective by practicing kinder behaviours for their children to mirror.

If the bench is used to help young people be that fourth character, that brave-hearted character, willing to stand up for others and speak out against an injustice, then it could be one more tool in a school’s tool box.

Breaking the silence

The Friendship Bench Project Canada is the group’s latest focus in its efforts to stomp out bullying. They promote the bench as a way for children to get help and to teach other students to show compassion.

There are still students who feel they don’t have a voice. For those students, this particular bench will be another option for them. They don’t have to have the words ready, they can just sit down and somebody will come to them.

Far too often, children who are bullied keep to themselves and don’t tell anyone.  Although school staff already works well with students when it comes to getting them to open up, there are still concerns about students who do not want to talk.

When they remain silent, then it builds and builds and that’s when we experience some of those other horrible things we hear about on the news and in our society in general. “If we can get the students to bring it forward, then we can deal with it.

We know all too well that bullying can go under the radar of many adults. It can often happen even while a teacher is on the playground.

The important thing to note here is the sooner we get kids thinking about how to be compassionate and empathetic to other people’s feelings and how to approach it so that it’s comfortable for them to approach … It’s giving kids tools to feel confident enough to sit beside others at school and say are you OK?

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