Buddy benches encourage Mahone Bay students to be more inclusive

A school on Nova Scotia's South Shore has two new benches meant to support children who may be feeling lonely.

Children can invite classmates sitting on the bench to play with them

Grade 2 student Evie Hall checks out on of the new benches installed on her school's playground. They are intended to be a spot children can go when they want some company. (Submitted by Kara Turner)

An elementary school in Mahone Bay, N.S., has two new benches that are meant to support children who might be feeling lonely. 

The home and school committee decided to install the "buddy benches" at Bayview Community School after hearing about the concept, which has sparked benches in other parts of the country, the U.S. and Europe. 

Kara Turner, a parent and president of the committee, says the aim is to encourage children to be friendlier to their classmates.  

"If they see another child sitting on the bench they can say, 'hey do you want to come over and play in our game?' It's a way of being more inclusive, more empathetic," she said. 

Built by a local carpenter, volunteers installed the benches on the playground a few weeks ago and students helped paint them. 

The school's guidance counsellor has been holding sessions to teach students about the idea behind the benches, Turner says. 

She hopes the children take the concept to heart, and that it in turn helps students who may be feeling isolated. 

"Especially at the beginning when you maybe don't have a circle of friends at the school already. They're there as a spot for a child that doesn't have a circle of friends already," she said. 

"It's a reminder it's important to be kind."

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