PRESENT BENCH"Senior Advisor for Ameriprise Financial Leigh Howell, left, and Jordan Beck, owner of Ameriprise Financial Menominee, right, presented the "Buddy Bench" to Peshtigo Elementary School and Associate Principal Nathan Smithson, middle, on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Buddy Bench Fosters Friendship at Schools
The buddy bench is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on a school playground. It came from an idea by Christian Bucks, a 2nd grader at Roundtown High School, who witnessed lonely classmates at his school playground, and wanted to make sure everyone had a friend. He came up with the buddy bench.
The buddy bench allows for kids who are new to school, want to make new friends, have no friends at school that day, or want to play something different than friends. The thinking is, if a child is sitting on the bench, he or she is looking for a friend. When someone asks a child to play, they are encouraged to join them, and always glance over to invite new friends to join in on the fun.
If a child is not sitting on the bench, he or she is encouraged to ask classmates on the bench to play, and make a new friend.
The design on Peshtigo's bench was an undertaking of Wendy Baron, a Menominee Elementary school teacher, with help from Jenni Vanni and Jessie Coduti.
Jordan Beck, owner of Ameriprise Financial in Menominee, who donated the bench to Peshtigo Elementary School, said "the idea came as a spin off of my wife's (Shelby Beck's) charity, Project Give. With their platform being "Raise your hand. Take a stand. End Bullying,' it seemed like a natural progression to give a tool to help children learning about bullying to put their efforts into action."
Leigh Howell, Senior Advisor with Ameriprise Financial, said "educators fill an important role in the development of our communities by mentoring, teaching, and caring for our children. After spending nearly 20 years in public education, I have seen the good that confidence and positivity comradery can have for our area's youth. A positive influence and a friend can help you to clear the cloudiest day." He continued to say "At Jordan C. Beck and Associates we also strive to bring that level of confidence to our clients with a trusted personal relationship with our advisors and staff as they map out their most important financial goals and decisions."
A buddy bench alone cannot create a positive place for kids. There must be a coordinated effort to create an inclusive school climate.
Every seven minutes a child is bullied, according to an estimate by the U.S. Department of Justice. Experts say that including kids who are alone at recess or lunch could also help combat bullying, a common problem in schools. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, as many as 30 percent of U.S. students have been bullied or have been a bully. Bullying can have lasting negative effects on the mental health and well-being of both victims and bullies.
Bullying involves hurting or threatening another person through teasing, physical violence, exclusion, and more.
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