The 3rd annual ‘Light up the Night’ Kilkenny truck and tractor run took place this on New Year’s Eve, in a bid to highlight suicide awareness, mental health issues and the help and support available in the local areas, nationwide and beyond. Light Up The Night is a Suicide Awareness initiative set up by a group of people from North Kilkenny and surrounding areas.
“Our reasoning for starting this event was that our local community, which is a rural area, has been hit hard by Suicide in recent years.” Freddie Farrell explained. ” At all of the funerals and in the aftermath of such tragedies, a group of us talked about doing something to try create an awareness about the help available to people in our areas.” he added.
The Buddy Bench Program facilitators visited 5 local schools in March 2019 as funded by The Light Up The Night tractor run initiative to deliver their message of friendship, communication and emotional well-being to over 738 children from North County Kilkenny.
The Buddy Bench facilitators spoke to all the classes with specially tailored age appropriate programmes . The Junior and Senior Infants classes received “The Little Buddies” mental health program is where children become enthralled in our interactive story brought to life by our furry woodland creatures.
Kin the thoughtful fox.
Alfe the very emotional and caring squirrel.
Red the robin who just loves his nest.
Neeke the monkey who is very different and so very very proud of the fact.
Each animal represents a thought, or a feeling. It is an open ended story allowing free will of the children’s imagination. Friends help children feel safe and we all need kindness to grow.
First to fourth class received “The Buddy Bench Aware” exclusion, isolation or fears of being left out can create anxiety for any child, so we have built our Buddy Bench Aware Program around teaching self-awareness, friendship, empathy and self-expression, using the Buddy Bench as a visual tool.
The children explore the clues other children give away on the outside about how they feel on the inside. We appoint all the children in the class the job of “noticing” and responding with kindness.
During our interactive workshop we teach children to recognise and respond to their own feelings – different emotions feel different on the inside, physically
The fifth and sixth classes received “The You Are A Hero” program
Each programme delivers a similar message designed to teach children the importance of effective emotional communication. The programme is accompanied by a physical bench which is left in the school yard as a reminder to the children that every child is important and needs to be noticed and included and that we all need to ,”Look up, look around and look out for each other.”
The programmes were well received by teachers and children alike. There was active participation by all involved and they were all very grateful to the Light Up The Night tractor run organisers for choosing their schools to receive the Buddy Benches and The Buddy Bench Aware programmes.
The Buddy Bench Team were also delighted to have been sponsored by The Light Up The Night committee for the second year running to deliver their importance message of friendship and inclusion to the schools involved. Light Up The Night crew we thank you………..very much.
Hi Judith,Thanks for Wednesday. A great day had by all.
“On Wednesday 27th March, Judith from Buddy Bench Ireland visited us at St. Lachtain’s NS, Freshford. She conducted workshops with all the children from Junior Infants to Sixth Class. The children explored such topics as how to be a good friend and the importance of looking out for and including everybody. They learned about the importance of sharing your feelings and worries, and also that it’s good to cry! Through story and drama, they also explored the concept of resilience and being able to bounce back. It was a great day for all.The visit was kindly sponsored by the kindness of ‘Light up the Night’. A Buddy Bench was also presented to the school. We’d like to sincerely thank their committee and volunteers for including our school this year.”