Student support at Ecole St. Paul has increased thanks to the buddy bench, a bench designed to be a friend that students may need from time to time. The concept started with an American student who proposed placing these benches at his school late in 2013, and the buddy bench really took off in popularity. The message given at buddybench.org is simple and straight forward, “The buddy bench is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground.” When a student sits on the buddy bench this lets everyone know that they need a friend or a listening ear, and others can respond to this need.
According to St. Paul parent council chair Joanne Dubuc “The buddy bench is out on the school grounds and if a child needs somebody to talk to if they’re having a bad day or just need someone to play with, which happens quite a bit, they have a seat on the bench and then everybody on the schoolyard knows they need someone to come talk to them, Another child sees that and goes and joins them on the bench. Then they either go off and play together, or they sit and talk, or if it’s something more serious, they can go get a teacher.” This increases student support. Dubuc also talked about letting the kids personalize the benches before they are finished and placed outside, saying “It makes it their own. It makes it their possession and it makes it part of their idea as well. We’re having all of our teachers and staff (add their prints) as well.”