‘It creates relationships’: buddy benches help connect Edmonton students with new friends

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Buddy benches help connect students with new friends
WATCH ABOVE: No one wants to feel lonely or left out on the playground, so hundreds of students rolled up their sleeves and put on their tool belts to make sure that doesn't happen – May 27, 2016

It’s never a nice feeling to be left out of the crowd, especially for young kids. In hopes of making sure no student ever feels alone, groups of elementary and high school students got their hands dirty Friday afternoon to build both bonds and benches.

About 40 elementary-aged Catholic school kids were mentored by high school carpentry students as they worked together to build buddy benches, a place kids can go when they’re looking for a friend.

“This is their chance to kind of find someone to play with. Kids can come to the buddy bench and sit down and someone will bring them over and play with them, whether it’s the playground or a game of soccer,” said Sonia Mangieri, assistant principal at Ben Calf Robe – St. Clare Elementary and Junior High School.

“For those kids that are shy, they would go to the bench. And then other kids would see that as an opportunity to come over and just ask them if they want to play and come and join in the games,” said Karen D’Heer, a Grade 5 teacher at Sister Annata Broackman School.

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The event, held to mark St. Joseph the Worker Day, wasn’t just about building benches. It was also about building relationships.

“It’s that cooperation of working together,” D’Heer said. “It’s nice that we have our older kids working with our younger kids.”

It was equally as rewarding for students, young and old.

“It’s a good thing because it’ll give kids a way to meet other kids and to make new friendships,” Grade 5 student Marysa Breen said.

“I’ve learned that it takes teamwork to build a bench and I got to know my classmates better.”

“It’s pure joy in their eyes. It’s just amazing to see them build stuff,” Grade 12 student Connor Stewart said. “It’s great when you can get them interested… We’re learning how to teach kids how to do stuff. It’ll be incredibly useful when we’re older and have to deal with little kids on a daily basis.”

Once built, one bench will be delivered to each of the Catholic elementary and K-9 schools in Edmonton.

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