Buddy Benches at Normandy Elementary promote recess friendships

Members of Normandy Elementary's Students of Character Club demonstrate how to use Buddy Benches at school assembly. Photo by Amy Bartley

Students at Normandy Elementary School in Bay Village care about the feelings of all their fellow students. That is why members of the school's Students of Character Club (SOCC), a leadership group promoting good character traits and positive behaviors, figured out a way to help children who were feeling left out and lonely at recess.

The club of first- and second-grade children has been working all year to bring Buddy Benches to their school. The polished wood benches with colorful handprints painted on the backs have now been installed on the school playground. If a child is feeling lonely or doesn't have a friend to play with at recess, he or she can sit on a Buddy Bench. This is a signal to others on the playground to reach out and include that student in their recess fun.

"Buddy Benches will help children who need more strategies for making friends and initiating play," said Megan Basel, school counselor and advisor to the club. "It will also help students who already have these skills practice showing empathy for others."

SOCC members have been promoting the benches to other students through posters and a bulletin board. They also demonstrated recently how new Buddy Benches work during an assembly presented to all the school's students.

"The purpose of the buddy bench is to make everybody feel cool," said second-grader Nolan Naughton as he and others showed students how they should take a moment out of their play, reach out to a child sitting on the bench, and invite him or her to join in their fun.

"Be a great friend, help others, be kind, be thoughtful," was a recurring message from all the club members.

Julia added, "My favorite part about the SOCC club is that it finally let us figure out a way to help people when they're sad and lonely at recess."

"I like SOCC because we made the world a better place," said Leo.

SOCC students will model the Buddy Bench use at recess and will be part of a "buddy patrol" to promote its use.

Club members were able to visit the manufacturer of the buddy benches earlier this year. The field trip to U.S. Marble and Granite Corporation of Westlake was educational for the students, and it also allowed them to express gratitude to the company for helping to make the Buddy Benches a reality.

Another partner in the Buddy Bench project was the Bay Village Education Foundation, which provided a grant earlier this school year.

Karen Derby

Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 9:39 AM, 05.19.2015