Clearbrook Elementary School students (left to right) Myra Brar, Ryah Kambho, Reese Ritchie, Mehair Sidhu and Mya Bains, along with teacher Ms. Teillet (back row) pose on the brand new ‘Buddy Bench’ which will soon be installed at the school. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

VIDEO: Abbotsford students bring ‘buddy bench’ to Clearbrook Elementary

New bench will help to fight loneliness amongst students and help build friendships

The message has been sent loud and clear from a group of Grade 5 students at Clearbrook Elementary: No matter who you are, you’re not alone.

That sentiment has been literally constructed by the pupils after raising money to fund the purchase, construction and installation of a “buddy bench,” which will soon sit proudly on school grounds.

The idea is that if a student feels lonely, they can go to the bench as a signal that they need someone to play with. Another child will then talk to them and include them in their games.

Fundraising efforts came about through a community project at the school last year, when students were tasked to select a problem they thought was occurring at the school and come up with a solution. Loneliness was the problem a group of five female students came up with.

“There are a lot of people who are lonely and have no one to play with and you see them go around and ask people to play with them,” said Mehair Sidhu, one of the students. “We’re trying to make the school a better place.”

Her classmate Ryah Kambho agreed and, after seeing information online about the buddy-bench concept, the plan came into motion.

“We saw a lot of people outside who didn’t have friends so we thought it would be a good idea to bring the bench to the school,” she said.

RELATED: ‘Buddy bench at Mt. Lehman Elementary

Teacher Nicole Teillet said battling loneliness and making sure everyone feels welcome is something the school aspires to do.

“We like to talk about virtues a lot here, and kindness and respect are the two we talk about every year,” she said. “The girls, their parents and grandparents came together as a team. They held bake sales and really the whole school came together.”

The bench will now be located on the playground at the school.

Teillet, a Grade 5 teacher who is in her fourth year of teaching at Clearbrook, said she hopes the bench can help make the school a better place and creates friendships.

“I hope it creates a legacy of kindness,” she said. “What we’re hoping is that it initiates compassion and care for students. It can show them that it’s not just up to adults to find them a friend to play; students will start independently helping each other.”

Student Mya Bains reiterated that point. “It’s so everyone has a friend and they don’t feel lonely at recess,” she said.

“I’m so impressed with these students,” Teillet added. “They thought up the idea in Grade 4 and I’m amazed how they all worked together.”

The work order to mount the bench, which will be located in the playground area, has been submitted and all parties involved hope to see it completed in the near future.

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