Ten-year-old David Adey of Corner Brook was so touched when he heard about “buddy benches” that he decided to raise money to have at least two benches installed on the playground at his school.
“It’s a bench that you can sit on if you have no one to play with. We’ll have (students) walking around on patrol, and if they see someone sitting on the bench, we’ll go see if they want to play or have a chat,” the astute 10-year-old explained during a phone interview on Nov. 8.
David is a Grade Five student at C.C. Loughlin Elementary School.
He learned about buddy benches during Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Westside Tabernacle Pentecostal Church this past summer.
David talked to his parents (Christine and Ian Adey) about the benches and his fundraising idea.
The family then took the idea to C.C. Loughlin principal, Helen Coleman, and to Westside Tabernacle’s pastor, Jeremy Simms.
Both the school and the church supported his idea.
On Nov. 8 the school held a “hat day” to raise money for David’s project. David said he came up with the idea.
“You could wear a hat and a hood (to school). If you wore one thing you paid a dollar. If you wore both, you paid two dollars,” David said later in the day.
The fundraiser brought in over $300.
Christine Adey said she thought her son’s buddy bench idea was a great one. Buddy benches are good for younger children, she said, and they also teach older students like her son about leadership roles in their school.
C.C. Loughlin principal Helen Coleman said the buddy bench project helps students realize the importance of being a friend as well as the importance of inclusion and belonging.
“At a younger age, sometimes, you have children who have no problems making friends and you have children that are very shy. So, this gives them the knowledge that, if they want to sit on the bench, somebody will come and talk to them or sit with them.”
Coleman said the buddy patrol team which the school will put in place is an important part of the initiative.
“We want to make sure that the child sitting on the bench is seen and the buddy patrol will also help instill responsibility, community spirit and leadership within (the students) in our school,” Coleman said.
Four-hundred students attend C.C. Loughlin.
Coleman said the school is grateful to Westside Pentecostal for its $1,000 donation towards the school’s first two buddy benches which will be placed outdoors in the K-3 area and the Grades 4-6 area.
Simms said the church’s VBS draws over 200 students and upwards to 100 volunteers.
After David learned about the buddy bench, Simms said, he was eager to bring the bench to his school.
Simms said the church was delighted to support the idea.
“We value children and what they bring to a church... We don’t see David as a child, we see him as a leader in our church. And if we can bless our communities through our schools... we want to do that,” Simms said.
How will David feel once the benches are installed on the school grounds?
“It’s going to make me feel proud,” he said.