Winnipeg school debuts buddy bench: It's 'more than a bench'
Published Tuesday, September 16, 2014 8:05AM EDT
For many students, recess is often the best part of the school day, but for others, it can be a lonely time. That's why a Winnipeg school decided to try out a simple project that's growing in popularity around the world.
The project is called the "buddy bench." It's an ordinary bench placed in the schoolyard. The idea is that kids who are looking for playmates can sit on the bench to signal they would like someone to come ask them to play.
The buddy bench idea has been around for some time in Europe and recently exploded in popularity in the United States. A story last year about a second grader in Pennsylvania who lobbied to get a buddy bench installed in his schoolyard prompted more than 200 other schools in the U.S. and Canada to follow suit.
On Monday, a rainbow-painted buddy bench was unveiled at Winnipeg's Gray Academy of Jewish Education, to the cheers of students.
"I think it's a very cool idea and I think it'll really help," Grade 4 student Nesya Greazes told CTV Winnipeg.
Local businessman Morris Henoch decided to arrange to have the bench installed near the schoolyard play structure, after he read about a student in New York who had a similar bench installed in his schoolyard.
Hanoch says he hopes the bench will be more than just a place to rest; it'll become a place where kids will learn about helping one another.
"The bench is more than a bench; it's a tool. It's a tool to educate the children that they have to be inclusive," he said.
School administrators at Gray Academy say they hope the bench will build empathy, reinforce inclusiveness, and act as a constant reminder to kids to be kind to one another. They also hope that, eventually, the bench will be empty during recess.
"At some point, I would like to see the buddy bench be just a decoration in our school. That no one will have the need to use it because everyone is kind of getting along or finding something to do," says school guidance counsellor Marcelo Mohadeb.