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Hall School Project Fosters Kindness, Inclusion

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Hall School Project Fosters Kindness, Inclusion
Posted on 05/01/2015
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Hall Elementary School and Riverton Elementary School have undertaken a community-based “Buddy Bench” project this year that is designed to help foster friendship, kindness and inclusion among students during outdoor play. 

A school assembly at Hall was planned for 9:30 a.m. on Monday, May 4, that will highlight the Buddy Bench project. Riverton Elementary School plans a May 7 unveiling of its Buddy Bench.

The project is a collaboration between the elementary schools and the Portland Arts and Technology High School, Deering High School, Hancock Lumber and WMTW 8 News. As a result of the collaboration, Buddy Benches will be installed at the schools' playgrounds in early May.

How does the Buddy Bench work?  A child feeling alone or upset during recess could sit on the wooden Buddy Bench for peer support. That would signal trained student “buddies” to join the child on the bench to talk and/or engage in productive recess play. The benches will help fourth- and fifth-graders become empowered as school leaders and mentors for younger students.

In April, DHS students trained the fourth- and fifth-graders on how to be “buddy” mentors. Training has focused on what it feels like to be excluded, how to help other students feel more included, and how to be part of a school culture that supports kindness and friendship as a general practice.

With the aid of material donated by Hancock Lumber, PATHS students in the Woodworking and Masonry program are building two Buddy Benches this year, one for Hall and one for Riverton. WMTW 8 News is the schools' media partner throughout the project, in connection with the station’s “Rise Up Against Bullying” program.