Kids design ‘Buddy Bench’ to help lonely classmates

Preschooler Emma Grace Colvin painted a “Buddy Bench,” which will be placed in the playground at St. Leonard School for students who are feeling lonely during play time. (Photo Special to The Record)

Preschooler Emma Grace Colvin painted a “Buddy Bench,” which will be placed in the playground at St. Leonard School for students who are feeling lonely during play time. (Photo Special to The Record)

The preschool class at St. Leonard School, 440 Zorn Avenue, has designed a “Buddy Bench” for the school’s playground.

The “Buddy Bench” is designed to help all children feel included on the playground, according to an announcement from the school.

“The Buddy Bench is a great idea, designed to address loneliness and foster friendship on the playground,” said St. Leonard’s principal Mary Parola. “This concept of kindness and inclusion ties in perfectly with St. Leonard’s 2015-2016 school-wide theme of compassion.”

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: Students in kindergarten through third grade who feel lonely on the playground may sit on the bench.

When other students see their classmate sitting on the bench, they will approach that child, say hello and offer to include him or her in an activity.

Laura Emly, director of recruitment and communications at St. Leonard, said she will meet with students to talk about “Buddy Bench procedures” and hear students’ ideas about how the bench can work.

Father B.J. Breen, pastor of St. Leonard and St. Frances of Rome churches, will bless the bench during a ceremony at St. Leonard on May 16 at 10:30 a.m.

The idea of a “Buddy Bench,” came from a child in York, Pa., who helped to build a bench at his school in 2013 after learning of a similar idea at a school abroad, the school’s announcement said. More information about the concept is available at buddybench.org.

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