Buddy bench in Warsaw school to help kids make friends at recess

(photo supplied / Meredith Phipps)

Warsaw Community High School students have spearheaded a project to take student wellness to the playgrounds.

One of the students, Meredith Phipps, says she heard about buddy benches as an idea floating around nation-wide and wanted to bring them to Warsaw’s elementary schools.

Phipps tells News Now Warsaw the “buddy bench” is a designated bench with a sign for a student to sit on if they don’t have someone to play with at recess.

“If they’re feeling alone they can sit on it and their classmates will know to come over and hang out with them and ask them to play,” she explains. “It kind of normalizes this feeling that sometimes everybody feels alone and its OK to admit that, and when someone has the strength to admit that, everybody else needs to step forward and encourage them ‘hey come play with me, you’re not alone in this’.”

The first buddy bunch is at Madison Elementary, debuting for the 2017-18 school year. Phipps says the principals of the other elementary schools have been contacted in hopes of installing buddy benches this fall.

Two other students, Grace Miller and Claire Rich, also helped bring the buddy bench to the community as part of their participation in Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy.

Warsaw Community Schools Grants and Special Projects Coordinator Krista Polston says she’s gotten positive feedback from teachers on the newly-installed buddy bench.

“Some of the teachers have talked about just having these buddy benches at recess has brought some awareness. Its really brought some attention to what’s going on at recess, and they’re now more aware and watching for those kids, and they’re helping to be involved as well,” she says. “Even though you may not have ever played with that child before, ┬áto go and meet a new friend and become friends, and bring that culture to the classroom.”

The buddy benches is just one of several student wellness initiatives being made a priority by Warsaw Community Schools as the new school year begins.