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Buddy Bench encourages inclusion, better friendships

By SARAH LEETE TSITSO
Correspondent
LONGMEADOW – In an effort to promote friendships and encourage tolerance, a group of 10 fourth-graders at Wolf Swamp Road School are raising money for the installation of a Buddy Bench at the school.
The students, who are all part of Girl Scout Troop 11657, are working toward their Bronze Awards. To achieve this honor, they must complete a community service project that will benefit the community permanently. One of the girl’s mothers is part of the Wolf Swamp PTO, and she mentioned how that group had been discussing the merits of a Buddy Bench at Wolf Swamp. A Buddy Bench is a bench for students to sit when they are lonely and are looking for a friend. If a child is feeling lonely or left out, and he or she sits on the bench, the goal is for other children to acknowledge this need and address it.
According to Troop Leader Zairy Major, they are hoping the bench encourages friendships and the importance of treating others kindly.
The girls presented their idea to Wolf Swamp Principal Dr. Neil Gile, who supports the project. The school’s Social Emotional Learning Committee is recommending the Girl Scouts transform an existing bench, which would alleviate the need to purchase another bench. This reduces the amount of funds the Girl Scouts must raise to complete the project.
The fundraising goal for the bench is approximately $300. To raise the funds they need, the Girl Scouts will host a bake sale on Saturday, May 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brightwood Hardware, next to Big Y.
Once the bench has been identified and installed, Major said they will likely place signage near the bench to explain its purpose. The girls will also complete a video about the project, and will schedule an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. The girls hope to have the bench ready for the opening of school this fall.
Major noted that the project is already making the girls more mindful of each other’s feelings.
“We see them making an effort and being nicer to each other,” Major said. “They are less polarized and more inclusive. Being a Girl Scout is about being a good friend to everyone. This bench really speaks to that concept.”