We are always very grateful to receive corporate funding as part of an organisation's Corporate Social Responsibility (C.S.R.). We can work closely with them to pinpoint which geographic areas we deliver our programme too, what type of projects, after schools or mainstream schools, what age group and this helps us factor the best results and impact for the funder and communities involved.
How we utilise these types of projects is to collect vital data to enable us to do an internal evaluation study, in other words we need to know what we are doing is having the optimal impact and generating results. On a plus side it gives me a licence to leave the office and get back out on the ground and talk to our very important customers, the children themselves.
Before the Buddy Bench was installed, what concerns did you have?
St Marys National School, Limerick.
Our Buddy Bench Programmes was delivered to the whole school of one hundred and two students on Friday 3rd February 2017, along with a Buddy Bench itself. St Mary's is a inner city Deis Band 1 school, it is vibrant, happy and very full of life. The children of this school were extremely good mannered, they were way above average in their social and emotion skills more than likely nurtured by their fantastic principle Jacinta, you should be proud of yourselves.👏
The Junior and Senior infants enjoyed the ‘Little Buddies’ programme immensely hanging on every word because we do know how difficult it is for this age group to concentrate. The teachers present stated, “it promotes awareness and inclusion and encourages children to talk about their feelings”.
First up to fourth class participated in the ‘Intermediate Buddy Bench Programme’, Teachers feedback that the programme was “a stepping stone to learn coping mechanism in life”. Lastly fifth and sixth classes partook in the ‘You are a Hero’ programme. It was very well received and the pupils engaged well and enjoyed an open dialogue about how emotions can be felt in our bodies. The teacher present throughout rated the workshop as "excellent".
How will you use your Buddy Bench Workbook?
Happy Hub, Togher Family Centre, Cork.
The Happy Hubby by name and definitely by nature was a colourful, vibrant after schools project with an open and warm atmosphere and was a delight to work in. On February 6th 2017, seventy three took part in our workshops ranging form Junior Infants up to sixth class in three different classes. One particular young girl stood out from the crowd, she is nine, her engagement, her answers were way above average, I asked her later how come she knew so much on this subject. Her Mam speaks with her a lot and she enjoys it, parents please engage with your children and start the conversation of positive mental well being, it has amazing results. Sarah Gallagher, the project manager was delighted with receiving their Buddy Bench for her centre and is organising a second one along with Cork county Council for a local park. “It was a very engaging programme – the concept of the buddy bench came across very strong and was understood well. I would highly recommend this programme, I felt it was a perfect way to directly get the message about the importance of good friendships across to young people. It is very much needed in our communities at this time”.
Letter From Sarah,
"The buddy bench program has really hit off here in the Happyhub. We got one other buddy bench done by our local Men's Shed so we now have 2 Buddy Benches in our room. They will be designed after the Easter holidays with the help of Dowtcha puppets.
Cork City council have funded the second bench and the Dowtcha puppet workshop. In may for friendship month- (Togher has been selected as a Learning Neighbourhood for 2017 which ties in with the UNESCO conference this September being hosted in Cork. We have decided to have monthly themes to encourage learning and a focused theme for all groups in Togher to engage in to promote learning in our neighbourhood. Therefore in May for friendship month we will have the launch of the benches in Togher Park.
The kids are using the bench in the Happyhub for now and they are very aware of the concept, they are excited about the entire concept and applying it in the park when they get put in, in May. They all crowd around someone if they sit on the bench to make sure they are being friendly in the happyhub room.
I felt the programmes were extremely beneficial, I know this because the concept is well understood, acknowledged and talked about regularly in our sessions- the information they received in the different workshops seem to have stuck in their minds and this is what makes them beneficial in my opinion.
There is a change in attitudes in terms of friendship- their awareness has changed and I notice that in their daily interactions with one another, I think it is a powerful concept and programme for young people.
The Happyhub caters for primary school children but our transition program caters for 6th class students and first years to encourage a supportive environment for young people maing the transition from primary to secondary. Children and young people attend Happyhub once a week but they do activities based around the following themes in the aim to build up resilience for young people to deal with real life when they leave this service.
- Managing Feelings
- Planning and problem solving
If you would like anymore information on the Happyhub in general please don't hesitate to ask,
The Aisling Project, Ballymun, Dublin.
Aisling Project – an after-school initiative working in Ballymun - was set up in 1997. They currently operate five centres across the whole of Ballymun, working with over 100 children and young people aged from seven to fifteen years old. Children go to Aisling Project, Monday to Thursday, from 2.30pm to 6.00pm, during the school year, with an activity filled three week summer project during the school holidays.
A total of forty four pupils participated in ‘Intermediate Buddy Bench programme’ and ‘You are a Hero programme’ across two centres on the 7th and 15th February 2017. Both centres received a Buddy Bench for their centres and will include the children's ideas in decorating them further. Audrey from Popping Tree says "Yes the children are sitting on the buddy bench but it still needs to be painted and we are hoping to do that in the coming months.
The children and leaders found the programmed beneficial in line with other programmes we were also running the with a focus on friendship . We definitely noticed an improvement in the children making an effort to be friendlier to each other during Friendly February but I cannot say that I have noticed a drastic improvement among children that were consistently unfriendly after the programmed. Children that were always friendly have continued to maintain that standard.
We have held on to the booklets and plan to re visit the topic with all the children again in September"
Bullying, anxiety and isolation would be on going concerns for staff at the centres, our research has shown this is very much across the board and not unique. Staff from the Aisling Project said it was “a very enjoyable programme as it encourages positive relationships between children and young people. It helps the above to become self-aware and recognise ways to manage negative thoughts and feelings”.
How likely are you to recommend the Buddy Bench programmes to other schools?
We thank all the projects who participated and of course the funders, without you this would not be possible, thank you.
Buddy Bench Team