To promote friendship and help connect students who are feeling alone, students, teachers, and parents involved in School District No. 42’s Montessori program at Hammond elementary have created the first Buddy Benches in the district.
Kids can sit on a Buddy Bench when they are feeling lonely or need a friend to play with or just need a quiet place to be mindful. Sitting on the bench can be a signal for other kids to come and ask them if they want to play. It is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground as well as to spread the message of inclusion and kindness.
“One of our parents introduced the concept at a meeting last year and we loved the idea,” said Leanne Koehn, president of the Maple Ridge Montessori Society. “They are popping up all over the world and we are excited that the Montessori program can give back to our host school in this way.”
There are five, mixed-age Montessori classes at Hammond, covering Kindergarten to Grade 5, and each class chose a bench built by inmates at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, to design and paint.
Two of them will remain in the school lobby and three will be installed around the playgrounds.
Hammond elementary teachers are talking to their students about the benches are for and multiple ways they can be used. Montessori students are also creating a video and visiting other classrooms demonstrating how students can use the benches.
The Buddy Benches were created with help from a Neighbourhood Matching Grant from the City of Maple Ridge and the efforts of project coordinator Kim Johnson, other members of the Maple Ridge Montessori Society, staff at Hammond elementary and Fraser Regional Correctional Centre.
They were given professional finishing coats by Dean Wensley. Claudine Hennessy introduced the idea of Buddy Benches
• For more information on SD No. 42’s Montessori program, visit www.sd42.ca/montessori, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.