New Bench to Help Create new Friendships at Ashland Grade School

Mindess Principal Greg Irvine, right, and members of the Mindess Dads group unveil the school's new Buddy Bench at a ribbon cutting ceremony in Ashland on Monday morning.  Daily News Staff Photo / Amanda Beland

ASHLAND - On Monday morning, students at the David Mindess Elementary School joined a world-wide friendship movement with the installation of singular bench.

The Buddy Bench movement is an initiative to build friendships during recess or other recreational periods. With help from the Mindess Dads group, a Buddy Bench was installed on the playground at Mindess.

"It's up to you guys to do your part," said guidance counselor Eileen Hacker at Monday's ribbon cutting. "You have an incredible opportunity to make someone's day."

Buddy Benches are installed on playgrounds. When a student doesn't have anyone to play with, he or she can sit on the bench. Other students, recognizing and knowing the purpose of the bench, invite the student sitting on the bench to play. Students can't say no to play requests and can't just rush to the bench as soon as recess is in session. Likewise, if two students are sitting on the bench waiting for play requests, they can also play with each other.

"One of the things we've been putting special focus on is the emotional side of students, particularly with peer relationships," said Mindess principal Greg Irvine. "It's another method to help make a new friend."

In the weeks leading up to Monday's ribbon cutting, guidance counselors spent time with students explaining what the Buddy Bench was and the rules behind it.

"The students have been very excited about it," said Irvine.

Currently there is one bench at Mindess and Irvine said faculty want to observe how it's received before installing any others.

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