Posted Date: 12/11/2018
Three sixth grade girls – new to Royster and FCCLA – decided they wanted to do something to help Chanute children. When they read about the buddy bench, and how it helps children find friends at recess, they knew they’d found their project.
With new bleachers being installed at the middle school, the girls were able to utilize some of the old seating and find someone willing to build benches for several of Chanute’s schools. With the benches under construction, Cha’Kyra Walls, Ava Teichgraeber and Rylee Smith began working on how to present the concept to school administrators and students.
Last week the girls attended two assemblies at Chanute Elementary, telling nearly 800 students that they were there to train them how to use the buddy benches that would be delivered to the school by Winter Break.
“It was a lesson in how to be a leader, ‘cause we were freaking out,” Walls admitted.
They showed a video of a skit they’d written, where a girl is trying to find someone to play with at recess, but everyone is already involved in games with others. Two playground fairies appear and ask her if she’s tried sitting on the buddy bench.
“Take a seat on the buddy bench and wait until a buddy comes to you”, one of the fairies said.” If nobody comes to you, go to them,” the second fairy suggested.
“Next time you need a buddy at recess, try the buddy bench,” the fairies told the CES audience.
When someone is sitting on the bench, it is a signal that they want someone to play with, the girls explained.
“Everyone has a responsibility in making this work”, they told the CES students. “Make sure you ask someone who is sitting on the bench to play.”
The buddy bench is not a place to sit and relax.
“They’re to help you make friends and feel included,” the girls said.
The girls fielded some tough questions.
“What if nobody comes?” a little boy asked.
“You can start your own game or try again the next day,” Smith responded.
“We never even expected that,” Cha’Kyra Walls said, “even though when were in elementary that’s how we felt.”
The benches are being made for St. Patrick’s School, Chanute Elementary and Lincoln Early Learning Center. They are adding the lettering to the St. Pat’s bench now, while the others still have to be painted first. Then a sealant will be applied and they’ll be ready for the outdoors.