Our very first Buddy bench (our pilot) is installed in Danesfort National School Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
"What an exciting day we had at school today! Our Buddy Bench arrived and it is just fabulous. We love it! It's beautifully decorated and so colourful. There was a great buzz amongst the children, especially because we are the first school in Ireland to participate in the programme. We all spent time chatting about the best location on our school grounds for the bench prior to its arrival and the children decided that amongst the trees was where the bench would find its home."
Playtime holds challenges for many children – whether it is because a regular playmate is missing for the day or because a child has not yet developed the social skills he or she needs to be successful. As parents, we try to give our children the tools they need to have successful friendships and to grow into compassionate adults – and the Buddy Bench is one more tool we can add as a visual reminder that sometimes we all just need a buddy.
The first American Buddy Bench was created after a boy named Christian aged 8 saw a special bench on a German school playground. Children sat on the bench to indicate that they wanted someone to play with and classmates, seeing their peers on the bench, would invite them to play. Upon learning more about that bench, Christian realized that it would be a great solution to help friends in his own school who felt lonely or had trouble finding playmates at playtime. He told his teacher and principal about his idea and Roundtown Elementary in Pennsylvania became the first US school to offer a Buddy Bench in the fall of 2013, this is now a successful Global movement.
By teaching children that anyone can benefit from a Buddy Bench with our pediatric-psychologist-designed training program, we can help children to release the stigma of asking for help, celebrate students who act with compassion and kindness and foster students in developing conflict-management skills, thus relieving anxiety, stress and feelings of isolation.
This program will be evaluated and rolled out nationally and we expect it will entwine heavily with the SPHE (Social Personal and Health Education) for the primary school curriculum.