On Tues., Jan. 17, members of the Gravois Kiwanis Club presented Mesnier Primary School in Affton with a Buddy Bench for their playground.
The purpose of a Buddy Bench is to help eliminate loneliness and foster friendships on the playground. If a child is sitting on a Buddy Bench alone, it is a signal to other kids to ask him or her to play.
“The mission of Kiwanis clubs is to focus on changing the world by serving children, one child and one community at a time. Gravois Kiwanis is dedicated in serving the students in the Affton area,” said Marilyn Allen, president of Gravois Kiwanis and Career and Technical Education Coordinator for Affton School District. “We are very excited to donate a Buddy Bench to Mesnier Primary to help spread the message of inclusion and kindness.”
During social skills lessons at Mesnier, kindergarten, first- and second-grade students have been learning how to join in a game or ask another student to play at recess.
Explains Tina Been, principal at Mesnier Primary, “If this strategy isn’t working, they can sit on the Buddy Bench to think about what they would like to play. It gives students the opportunity to take a moment to look around and see what they would like to play. If they see something that interests them, they can go play, or if another student sees a peer sitting on the bench they can then invite them to play. If no one goes over to the bench, an adult on the playground can support the student in finding a friend or making a plan for play.
“We see this as a tool that students can use while on the playground, but can also extend into the classroom and beyond. We are excited to teach and model this new process for our students in the upcoming weeks.”
For more information on Buddy Benches, visit http://buddybench.org/.