GLASSBORO, N.J. — Students at three Glassboro schools now have new places to make friends.
Thanks to two Glassboro High School freshmen, McKenna McIlvaine and Alyssa Riley, three new “Buddy Benches” are now outside J. Harvey Rodgers School, Dorothy L. Bullock School, and the Glassboro Child Development Centers.
McIlvaine and Riley, as part of their Girl Scouts Silver Award Project, spent hours of their own time over the summer, with the help of a local retired carpenter who assisted with woodwork, to create the three benches.
Gloucester County Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger explained the process to earn the Silver Award as he and Freeholder Heather Simmons presented the girls with proclamations recognizing their efforts recently.
“In order to become a Silver Award Girl Scout, Girl Scouts must identify an issue they care about and develop a project that helps them to tackle that issue head-on,” Damminger said. “For Glassboro High School freshmen McKenna McIlvaine and Alyssa Riley from Girl Scout Troop 66085, that issue was helping younger children learn to include others and form friendships in a technology-driven world.”
A buddy bench is an idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground. A child sitting on a Buddy Bench indicates to other children that he or she would like company. In the same way, if children see someone sitting on the Buddy Bench, they are encouraged to include them in activities or sit and talk with them. The benches are designed to help students feel included on the playground or during recess activities promoting better mental and emotional health for youth.
At the presentation of the proclamations, Simmons said how important Buddy Benches are to teach students how to interact with one another.
“Teaching our children how to interact with others face to face is important in today’s world of screens,” Simmons said. “The Buddy Bench teaches children to be inclusive. By creating the Buddy Benches these young women are helping to create a generation of children who are willing to sit down with someone who may be lonely or who may not have anyone else to sit with or talk to.”