Issue: Perry Community School District wanted to develop a way to stop bullying incidients from happening on school grounds.
Local Impact: The Buddy Bench encourages children to be open about their emotions when they are feeling upset; since the Buddy Bench is at the elementary school, the bench will help shape students to seek friendship as well as help others in need at an early age.
In efforts to bring awareness to National Stop Bullying Day, Perry’s Hy-Vee partnered up with Perry Elementary to bring a “buddy bench” to the school grounds. The bench was welcomed to the elementary during a brief afternoon presentation on Wednesday, Oct. 11.
The buddy bench is utilized as a place to go whenever a student is feeling down or simply need a friend to lean on. While vulnerability comes into play, Fourth Grade teacher, Elizabeth Marburger, said fourth graders are excited about the new playground addition.
“That’s what we kind of talked about with the kids - going on to the bench is not a bad thing,” said Elizabeth Marburger, Fourth Grade teacher.
Marburger discovered the buddy bench last year on the internet when looking for projects for the school’s Earth Week.
“I had seen them before a couple of years ago and just thought it would be something great to be on our playground,” said Marburger.
Later, she approached Larry Vodenik, Community Involvement and Event Coordinator at Hy-Vee, about the idea as a project both PCSD and Hy-Vee could partner on.
Some of the designs of the buddy bench had been environmental-friendly and both originally thought it would be a beneficial gift to students during Earth Week.
“We moved it up for Stop Bullying Day so we thought that was a perfect time to get a tie in,” said Larry Vodenik, Community Community Involvement and Event Coordinator at Hy-Vee.
Before the bench was officially introduced to students, teachers from the fourth grade class explained the purpose of the project to students.
“I put together a Powerpoint about the buddy bench and clips on there that they could watch and see the bench being used,” Marburger said. “So we showed that to all of the kids and then they made their list of what some guidelines would be for the buddy bench.”
A common theme rose from all six classes, Marburger says.
You have to be a bench watcher, which means if someone is sitting on the bench then you should invite them to play at recess.
If you’re on the bench and someone else sits with you then the two of you should play together, and if someone asks you to play while you’re on the bench you should go with them.
“I’m hoping the kids will use it as way of getting into a different game or group of friends,” Marburger said. “You don’t have to play with the same friends everyday.”
The bench, although new, is one the fourth graders can make their own.
“The thing I like about is the buddy bench didn’t come with any directions so the kids had to make their own directions and their own rules,” Vodenik said. “That’s what I think makes it special.”