HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — Henry County elementary students recently got a major addition to its elementary schools that the district hopes will help kids learn the importance of being a “buddy.”
The school recently introduced new Buddy Benches across the district’s 28 elementary schools.
The district said the benches are intended to be high-quality outdoor benches placed in the recess area of school campuses that are identifiable by their uniform color and unique design.
The district said that mental health and wellness facilitators, stationed at every school across the district, will lead training about the purpose and use of benches.
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“Our Board of Education has been clearly committed to ensuring positive school climates and every student feeling valued,” said Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “Installing Buddy Benches as a resource at each of our elementary schools is another innovative way to showcase the vital importance of building positive relationships and student friendships in schools across Henry County.”
Timber Ridge Elementary second-grader Kacie Barnett said she thinks the benches can make a big impact on the lives of kids.
“I think the Buddy Benches could really change someone’s day here at Timber Ridge and all the other elementary schools in Henry County,” Barnett said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 16. “Here are three reasons how: someone who might be struggling with a friend, someone who is having a hard day and wants to play, or someone who is new to TRE and does not have a friend yet.”
In addition to training teachers regarding the purpose of Buddy Benches, the district’s Mental Health and Wellness Facilitators will train students from each classroom to be wellness ambassadors for new students, students who are shy, feeling left out, or lonely.
Barnett, one of several student wellness ambassadors who attended last week’s ribbon-cutting, has already seen positive results from the installation of the first two Buddy Benches at TRE.
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“One of my friends was a new student here and sat on the Buddy Bench,” she said. “He now joins in a game every day with his new friend that he met from sitting on our Buddy Bench.”
Officials said the benches will help kids build foundational social skills.
“Many kids do not have the social skills to build and engage new friendships, and a majority of young learners have anxiety around not having friends at school,” Director of Student Services Fredric Latschar said. “Our Buddy Benches and student wellness ambassadors will help to alleviate the anxiety and pressures of students not having someone with whom they can connect.”
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