A group of Irvine elementary school students has made the school a little safer with a kind word, a dose of common sense and the occasional bag of ice.
They are Kid Advisors and the primary students look up to them like the big kids they are.
On sunny days, these Grade 5 students put on yellow vests and head outside at lunch and recess to lend a hand to their younger peers and occasionally dispense school yard justice.
But they don't advise a survival-of-the-fittest code of ethics. Instead, these students take a moment to listen to all sides of the story and ask what would make things better. Often, a simple "I'm sorry" is all that's needed to re-glue the bond of friendship. Sometimes, a bag of ice is required or a scrape and a tear have to be wiped away.
"It kind of makes you happy that you're solving someone's problems," says Lindsay Spence, one of about 20 Irvine students who have signed up to be Kid Advisors this year.
Spence, along with her friends Noah Gray and Sawyer Page, say they don't mind giving up one recess and lunch a week to help out the younger students.
"We have most of the rest of the week to play," notes Gray.
School counsellor Deb Taylor, who helped set up the program several years ago, said the idea is to encourage students to resolve their small disputes (when problems get big or involve a medical emergency, the Kid Advisors seek out an adult).
Most of the time, however, the Kid Advisors are up to the job and the primary kids think the playground is safer and calmer space because of their efforts, Taylor said.
Sometimes, it's so calm, its boring: "Then I tell them, if you're bored that's a good thing," she says.
Last week, the Kid Advisors were recognized with a special certificate of recognition at a school assembly.