Element Land Surveys Inc. is proud to be a supporter of Alexander Ferguson School's new "Buddy Bench".
What is a "Buddy Bench"? It is a concept started in Europe, and making it's way to North America. It is more than wood, screws and paint, it is a movement of inclusiveness and belonging. It is a way for children who feel lonely, isolated, or just having a tough day to find a friend. It is an advocate, a voice for children who may feel to shy to speak up. It says "come play with me", or "I could sure use a friend right now". It allows children who feel anxious in social situations an avenue to transition into play groups with their peers.
The concept is simple, if you are looking for someone to play with and too shy to approach the group, sit on the Buddy Bench. If you see someone sitting on the Buddy Bench, invite them to join your group. The result... an instant friend making machine!
I have heard some naysayers mock the idea calling it the "Bully Bench", thinking that this will further isolate children, and make them an easy target for bullying. To this I say rubbish. They clearly don't understand that this is not just a bench, but a movement that extends far beyond the bench itself. There are seminars and facilitators coming in to work with the children to address issues and concerns not only for bullying, but for friend making, being a good friend, and what it takes to develop meaningful friendships. The school has partnered with "Girl Power and Good Guys" to bring the initiative full circle. They will work with students and staff to provide them with skills and empowerment opportunities to make meaningful, lasting relationships, how to make and meet new friends, and to determine the difference between a true friend and a toxic relationship. The program allow them to realize that it is OK to have different interests, thoughts, and ideas, this is what makes us unique. Friendships grow and blossom, but this can also mean that one day you may grow apart, but that is OK too, because in the future you will reconnect over another common interest. It teaches our children how to be a responsible citizen, community ambassador, and have compassion for others. They learn to embrace our differences, and cultivate our similarities into a beautiful friendship garden. The bench is a symbol of the entire "Buddy Bench Initiative", standing there as a sentry, representing these beliefs, and serving as a constant reminder to all children of what it means to be a friend.
Alexander Ferguson School has donated a second bench to Rosscarrock School, their new Buddy School. They plan to work on the project over the next few months, and unveil their Buddy Bench this fall. That makes the first 2 Buddy Benches in Calgary, and hopefully there will be more to come.
It would be amazing if the bench was never used, but I take solace in the fact that it is their should anyone need to use it. I congratulate the parents, staff, and children of Alexander Ferguson School for their hard work and dedication investing in the program. As the old saying goes, if this is only able to touch and change the life of one child, then the entire project was worthwhile. I hope that other schools take notice, and join the movement!
You can check out the CVT coverage of the ceremony.