Buddy Benches sees students band together

CLARENDON Vale Primary School students are recognising the importance of friendship following the official launch of the “Buddy Bench” late last month.

In attendance at the event was Clarence Mayor Doug Chipman, alongside representatives from Howrah Rotary Club and Bayview Secondary College.

The Buddy Bench is an initiative originally founded in the United States by a young girl who wanted to help lonely kids find friends during lunchtime.

The bench is located in the school playground and is designed to be a place where a child can go and sit if they are feeling lonely or sad.

It is a sign to other children in the playground that whoever is on the bench may need a friend or somebody to talk to.

Clarendon Vale Primary School is the sixth school on the Eastern Shore to have a Buddy Bench.

Other schools include Lauderdale Primary School, Rokeby Primary School, Emmanuel Christian School and Bayview Secondary College.

Mayor Chipman said the Buddy Benches had brought together people from all over the Eastern Shore.

“I think the important thing is that it’s a community effort, bringing it all together,” he said.

“This bench has been made by the Clarence Men’s Shed and there was also collaboration with school art departments and with the school kids voting on the design of the bench.”

Funding for the bench was collected through a grant from Clarence City Council and Howrah Rotary Club.

Jan Jordan, from Howrah Rotary Club, said Clarendon Vale Primary School had pushed for a Buddy Bench on its school grounds for some time.

“The school has just been so enthusiastic, I’m so pleased the launch was here,” she said.

“The school has bent over backwards with enthusiasm for this idea, it is phenomenal and heart-warming to see.”

School students Ollie Kemp, grade four, and Nic Benjamin, grade two, said they were excited to have a Buddy Bench in their school.

“It’s really cool and helpful,” Ollie said.

“If kids are feeling really lonely others can come and help them out.”

Nic said that when he and his friends were playing on the playground and saw somebody sitting on the bench, they would go and ask them if they wanted to play together.

All students at Clarendon Vale Primary were heavily involved in the design of the bench, and have taken ownership over the painted seat design, which was executed by one of the staff members at the school.

The bench seat is decorated with a to-scale solar system mural, with planets, stars and the galaxy painted on the Tasmanian timber.

“The bench also looks really good with all the solar system decorations,” Nic said.

The teachers at the school are optimistic that the bench design will also be a learning opportunity and talking point for students who sit on the bench.

Clarendon Vale Primary School principal Jacquie Devine said she was positive the bench would create a more inclusive school playground.

“We noticed in the very early stages of the bench being in position that if somebody did sit and there with a sad look on their face, other students would come and sit with them,” she said.

“We have a very caring community of students who are happy to lend a hand.”

Caption: From middle left, Jan Jordan and Suzanne Watton from Howrah Rotary Club, Clarence Mayor Doug Chipman and Clarendon Vale Primary School principal Jacquie Devine with students.