Child friendly buddy bench
To the untrained eye, Spotswood Primary School’s new buddy bench looks like any other piece of outdoor furniture.
But there’s more to the wooden seat than meets the eye.
The concept behind the buddy bench is that if a child is lonely or feeling excluded and doesn’t have any friends to play with, they can sit on the bench and other children will know to reach out and make an effort to include them.
Red Cross enlisted the help of New Horizons Aotearoa, a mentoring programme managed by the Bishop’s Action Foundation that assists boys to learn carpentry skills from positive male role models in the building industry.
‘‘Rather than just have the bench, get these young men to build this bench because it really does add to the project,’’ the charity organisation’s youth coordinator Nicola Earl said.
Red Cross bases its work on seven fundamental principles, two were key to the project, humanity and unity.
‘‘We’re not just talking about unity within the school grounds, but other organisations, the young men on the programme, and schools,’’ Earl said.
BAF CEO Simon Cayley said his organisation was proud to be a part of the New Horizons, which was a real community effort.
Now budding builders from three schools currently participate and Spotswood College was the first to complete its bench before presenting it to the primary school. ’’They have been a fantastic group of boys and they have really responded to the opportunity,’’ Cayley said.
Founding patron of the mentoring programme Kere Ell realised the projects potential from the get go, where the boys could be highlighted as young role models. ’’New Horizons is about empowering young people and giving young people who potentially have some disadvantage a bit of a hand up so-to-speak, which is exactly what the buddy bench is all about,’’ he said.
Aspiring tradie, Joshua Hart, 14, would have liked a buddy bench as a junior. ‘‘I might have had more friends,’’ he said.
While the bench looks good aesthetically it also fits in with the school’s core values: aroha (love), korero (speak), and ora (be well).
‘‘It’s really nice to see the community coming in and really fitting with our values. It’s really neat as a school,’’ principal Mark Fisher said.
Mark Fisher, Kere Ell, Nicola Earl take a back seat to Ben Andrews, Kanaan Andrews, and Joshua Hart.