Buddy Bench encourages friendship & inclusivity
Moreland’s new Buddy Bench encourages friendship and inclusivity
Posted on 10/04/2017

Photo - Red Buddy Bench on the playgroundMoreland Arts and Health Sciences Magnet School received a new addition to its playground this past summer. A bright red bench with a phrase across the front reading “Buddy Bench” now resides near the swings and serves an important purpose. 

A Buddy Bench is a tool designed for children to create opportunities of friendship, kindness and inclusivity. The idea behind this bench is to provide students who may be having friendship struggles or want to make new friends a safe place to sit and wait to be invited by others.

During the first week of school, Moreland’s School Counselor Steph Casmer went to each classroom and explained the rules and expectations of the Buddy Bench to students. 

“We talked about how it was okay for students to want to meet other friends,” said Casmer. We also talked about the expectation of inviting students to play if they see someone sitting on the bench. I asked students the question, ‘how would you feel if you didn’t have someone to play with?’”

Only one person is allowed on the Buddy Bench at a time, and if students see someone sitting, they can invite that person to come join them. Once invited, the student leaving the bench must commit to playing with the group for at least five minutes. 

Even though the school year has just begun, the Buddy Bench is already making a positive impact at Moreland.  

“My favorite part about the Buddy Bench is that people are being kind and inviting others to play with them,” said fourth grader Jenny P. “I’ve also noticed that there’s a lot more people playing with each other.”

Funding for the Buddy Bench came from Safe Fleet’s 2017 United Against Bullying Grant, which was awarded to Moreland along with 34 other schools across the nation.

Some of the funding from the grant is also going toward Moreland’s Kindness Patrol, a group of 17 fourth graders who are chosen to be leaders and good examples of the ARTS (Always Respectful to Self) framework taught throughout the school. 

In addition to the Buddy Bench and Kindness Patrol, Moreland also uses an anti-bullying curriculum and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to strengthen its anti-bullying initiative. Throughout October, National Bullying Prevention Month, Casmer will go into classrooms each week and provide lessons explaining what bullying looks like and ways it can be prevented.

“My hope for the future is obviously that bullying goes away,” said Casmer. “I see it getting reduced every year, and with implementing things like PBIS, research based curriculum and now the Buddy Bench, I’m hoping we’ll continue moving forward. We have a group of really kind kids here at Moreland.”
 
With the installation of Moreland’s bench this summer, Buddy Benches can now be found at all District 197 elementary schools.