The Rotary Club of Fort Saskatcewan recently sponsored two new Buddy Benches.
While these benches have been around for a few years, they are going to be a new addition to the city.
Buddy Benches serve as a way for students to get help and attention without needing to seek somebody out. Children that feel lonely or sad can sit on these benches, and it alerts adults or other students that something is wrong and they need comfort or simply someone to talk to. They can also be used as a way for students to learn to help and support each other. The Rotary Club's hope is to use these benches to prevent children who have been bullied from being isolated, and help them connect with other students.
"It's a way to get kids to understand that there are safe places out there. There are ways of meeting others," said local Rotary Club president, Stew Hennig.
The club first heard about Buddy Benches from a different Rotary Club, who were sponsoring schools to build the structures. Since their World Peace Initiative is part of their group's core beliefs, the Rotary Club decided pursuing these benches fit their ideals perfectly.
"It's a good place to start," Hennig went on to say. "We are often looking for local projects to make a difference."
They approached local schools with the idea of adding Buddy Benches to their playgrounds. The plan is that the school orders the benches from companies that manufacture them, and the club will pay for them.
"We're just kind of a bank to help finance that sort of thing."
The benches cost an average of $2000 to be built.
The first school that will have them is Win Ferguson, which is currently building two new playgrounds. Part of the building process is putting two Buddy Benches in place. Both benches are multi-coloured and are made of heavy-duty plastic to last against the environment.
However, the club isn't planning on stopping there. They plan on approaching SouthPointe school next, as they are also building a new playground, and hopefully move on to other elementary schools.
"We were hoping to go until we had completed all of the elementary schools in Fort Saskatchewan."