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Buddy Benches Help Students Promote Kindness
Robert J. McGarvey Elementary School (RJMES) in Rancho Cordova has three newly installed buddy benches on campus. The benches provide students with a way to reduce social isolation during recess and at lunch times. The benches were made possible by a Community Enhancement Fund Grant from the City of Rancho Cordova.
The guidelines for students are simple: If they see someone sitting on the bench, they know to go say hi and ask if that student would like some company.
“Sometimes students sit on the benches because they are hoping someone comes along to ask them to play. Other times, two or more students may be seen just sitting together talking or playing a game,” said Michael Gulden, Principal at RJMES. “One young lady, a sixth grader, sits on the bench and reads. When others come by to ask her to come play, she politely tells them she is just waiting for someone to come along who might not have a friend,” he added.
For RJMES, there are clear benefits of having the buddy benches on campus. Students have the opportunity to develop open-mindedness, social skills and leadership when they offer support to another in need. The school also believes that it helps convey the message that reaching out and empathizing with another person is effective in helping students process their own emotions.
The benches are integral to the school’s overall culture of kindness and are used as tools to help teach the core values at RJMES: safety, open-mindedness, accountability and resilience.