A8 buddy bench.JPG

STUDENTS walk past “Buddy Bench” at Westside Elementary School.

“Buddy Bench” provides one more welcoming place on the playground at Westside Elementary School.

New playground equipment, a courtyard and new tree plantings, and a student-painted mural are all new additions to the playground in the past few years.

As of two weeks ago, add the colorful bench to it, imprinted with the words, “You are somebody’s reason to smile.”

Buddy Bench provides a place for any student looking for companionship to sit, according to principal Bill Newton. The idea is that other students or staff will see a lonely child there and come over to engage them. Newton credited Leah Yost, student support specialist with Hood River County School District, and assistant principal Amy McConnell with developing the project. Buddy Benches have been used in other school districts, and nationally, and are available for purchase, and they saw the opportunity here, according to Newton.

It sits in a prominent place between the play structure and the main playground equipment.

Teachers and librarian Debi Gallagher have augmented the  bench installation with readings to all students from the book, “The Buddy Bench” by Patty Brozo. While unrelated to the Buddy Bench project, it supports the goal of developing active empathy. The book depicts a school where the children are inspired to create a bench to offer friendship to classmates who find themselves alone on the schoolyard.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.