“This is something that has swept the nation,” said Principal Christine Rebera. “It started with one student who thought it was a good idea to have the playground be a place of friendship. They needed a buddy bench because some kids were on the playground and didn’t know how to make a friend, or didn’t have someone to play with that day. He had this idea and they did that at his school.”
In America the idea started with first grader Christian Bucks, of York, PA. When his father was thinking about moving his family to Germany for a job transfer, Bucks looked up the school he would go to on the Internet. That school had a buddy bench, and Bucks was excited by the idea. It turned out his family didn’t move, so he brought his idea to Principal Matthew Miller at the end of the school year, and it became a reality when Bucks was in second grade in 2013.
The story hit the national news and buddy benches began sprouting up all over the United States. Lansing Elementary Special Education teacher Carmela MacKenzie saw a news report, and brought the idea to Rebera. After several meetings School Counselor Laura May volunteered to spearhead the project. She enlisted Outdoor Recreation Services Teacher Mike Ionello’s and Aide Lynn Swearingen’s World of Work students to build two benches, one for each playground at the elementary school. RC Buckley art teacher Brittany Novitzki was enlisted to paint them.
“A buddy bench is a place where students can sit if they need a buddy to play with during playground time, or someone to talk to, or if they find themselves alone and not sure how to join in a game,” Rebera said. “They go to the buddy bench. We teach the kids how to respond to somebody who is sitting on the buddy bench. To go over and invite them to play, or invite someone to talk and be their buddy.”
Rebera thanked a large number of people who were involved in making the project happen. As the benches were being completed fourth grade student council members were enlisted to teach their classmates what the benches are for and demonstrate how to use them. They made a video that was shared with the entire school.
May, Novitzki and Rebera unveiled the benches to much applause. Rebera said they will be installed on the playgrounds soon, and the conversation will continue as school officials evaluate how they are working.
“What I know about RC Buckley is that we have a lot of great friends,” she said. “Everyone here is going to take care of each other so everyone has someone to play with at recess.”
Original article found here: http://lansingstar.com/around-town/11745-need-someone-to-play-with-sit-on-the-buddy-bench