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Benches to help build friendships in Port Moody school

Seaview students paint Buddy Benches and talk about what it means to be a good friend in lessons about social responsibility
Seaview Buddy Bench
Seaview elementary school leadership students (from left) Sebastian Point, Maria Febres Duque and Luke Feist sit on the benches they and other students painted with the help of music, art and library teacher Sheri Evans. The benches are intended to promote friendship and encourage students to talk about what makes a good friend.

If you're lonely and needing a friend, you don't have to hide your feelings at Seaview elementary school.

All you have to do is climb on to one of two colourful benches and someone will join you and offer to be your friend.

At least that's the idea behind the Port Moody school's Buddy Benches, which were painted by students and will soon be installed next to the playground and soccer field.

"If my friends are away sick, I would be lonely, [and if I sat on a bench] people would notice, I would sit down, and somebody would come and talk awhile, and eventually play," says Maria Febres Duque, a Grade 4 student, describing the purpose of the bench she helped design and paint.

Grade 3 student Luke Feist said he would use the bench to get someone to play with him because he sometimes gets left out of rough games because he has a bleeding disorder.
"It's [going to be] pretty common for people to use this," Feist predicted.

His teacher, Sheri Evans, said the benches were painted to teach children about friendship and what it means to be a good friend.

"Our school has been focused on social responsibility and making friends, and we're hoping the kids won't be too shy to use the benches."

At a recent assembly, the students role-played how the benches would be used and now the students understand what makes a good friend.

"Being kind" is how Point characterizes friendship while Feist says one must "Treat others like you want to be treated."

For Febres Duque, who plans to use the bench to make new friends, a friend is someone who "accepts you for being a nice person."

But there could be challenges, their teacher notes. "Building friendship in school is difficult because we all think and like different things," Evans said.

The Buddy Benches could make it easier to make new friends, she said, and "hopefully will make for a stronger community."