Students at Central Manor Elementary School have a new way to make friends during recess – by taking a seat on the “Buddy Bench.”
Students who find themselves alone on the playground can sit on the bench, and their peers are encouraged to invite them to join in their activities. If no students approach, an adult will help find the student a “buddy” or come up with a plan for an activity.
So far, the Buddy Bench is working, said Brian Malek, Central Manor assistant principal.
“I recently had the pleasure of observing a first-grade boy invite another first-grade boy to play on the jungle gym,” he said. “This is the epitome of what the Buddy Bench is all about.”
The idea originated when a student council member was looking for ways to encourage friendships and play at recess time, according to Danielle Rogers, a Central Manor counselor. Rogers had just read an article about the Buddy Bench, an idea that originated at a York County school and has spread across the United States, so she suggested the project.
A contest was held to design a poster to identify the bench. Third-grader Bella Brewer’s artwork – depicting a line of people holding hands with the message “We help each other” – was chosen. Before the Buddy Bench was put into use, the school staff explained to students the rules of the bench and did a role-playing exercise on how children should interact at the bench.
One rule is if you’re on the bench and someone asks you to play, you must say “Yes!”
“The bench usually has several students sitting and chatting and smiling,” said principal Deb Holt. “It has been a great addition to Central Manor’s playground!”