PAYETTE — Remember a time in elementary school when you had no one to play with? Perhaps you were the new kid, maybe your best friend wrote you off for the day, or maybe you were just feeling lonely? Whatever the reason, it might have been nice to have a place where someone cared that you needed a friend. Enter the “Pirate Buddy Bench” at Payette Primary.
A Buddy Bench is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and encourage friendships to blossom. Any child at recess who needs a friend simply goes to the bench and sits down. Other students, who are trained to watch the bench, run quickly to invite the child to come and join them or just sit and talk.
Mrs. David’s third-graders got the idea from a new student who had used one at her former school. The students had to figure out what supplies were needed, ask permission, and finally paint a bench on each playground red. The students worked at recess in groups of six to accomplish the task.
They learned about cooperating, being prepared, and most importantly how to help someone in need of a friend. And it’s working! The call out on the playground includes “Look! There is someone on the Pirate Buddy Bench.” followed by several children running to find out what is needed. Usually a quick invitation is extended and the play begins, but sometimes just a listening ear and encouragement play an equally beneficial role. Of course an adult is notified if the person in need of a buddy does not respond. All in all, the bright red “Pirate Buddy Benches” will serve to increase community and build friendships for months to come.