The Buddy Bench at St. Isidore School is geared toward helping eliminate loneliness and foster friendship, inclusion and kindness on the playground.
An avid reader of Teaching Tolerance magazine, St. Isidore School 5th grade teacher Karen Yerly, read about a program that she thought would be interesting to consider at St. Isidore School, and brought it to the attention of school principal Cyndi Collins and school counselor Courtney Boulukos. After some discussion and planning, it was adopted, with a Buddy Bench installed and dedicated on the school’s playground this past winter.
According to Ms. Boulukos, the Buddy Bench was an idea started by a student in Pennsylvania, geared toward helping eliminate loneliness and foster friendship, inclusion and kindness on the playground. The idea is that if a student does not have someone to play with, they can go sit on the bench. If another students sees someone sitting on the bench, they invite them to play.
Ms. Boulukos brought a bench into her office where she put the words BUDDY BENCH on it. Each grade — Preschool to 8th grade — had its own letter and paint color where each student put their thumb print.
“We are thrilled to have a Buddy Bench on our playground. It is simply a place for students to gather with others and foster friendship,” Mrs. Collins added. “It is meant to be a place where someone who needs a friend can find one.”
History of the Buddy Bench
In the spring of 2013, when a boy in Pennsylvania named Christian was in first grade, there was a possibility that his family was going to move to Germany. When they were looking at a website for a school overseas, Christian saw pictures of a special bench on the playground. He thought it would be a really great thing to have on the playground at his school, because he knew that there were some kids who felt lonely at recess. He told his teacher and his principal about it and they thought it was a great idea.
In the end, Christian didn’t move to Germany. Sure enough, his principal researched it and let Christian help pick out the bench. Before it was placed on the playground, Christian spoke in front of his whole school at a community morning meeting to explain the Buddy Bench and show a video about it that he made with his principal.
The local newspaper did a story on the Buddy Bench and it caught the attention of the Huffington Post. From there it was picked up by NBC and other media outlets. Christian has heard from students and adults across the country who love this idea and want to do the same thing at their schools.