October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and a new outdoor project at John Rex Charter School (JRCS) is teaching students about the importance of kindness.
The project was led by Troy Hays, a local Life Scout and son of a John Rex Elementary School teacher. Hays constructed four cedar benches, or “Buddy Benches,” for students to use during recess. Students are encouraged to sit on a “Buddy Bench” when they feel lonely or in need of a new friend, which signals to other students to approach them.
“The world needs more kindness,” Hays said. “It’s been an honor to do something positive for other kids in the community as part of my Eagle Scout Service Project.”
National Bullying Prevention Month seeks to raise awareness for the challenges many students face during the school day. The goal of this awareness campaign is to help both children and adults recognize bullying must be addressed through increased education and support.
“John Rex Charter School is proud to educate such a vibrant, diverse community,” Head of School Dean Ketchum said. “We strive to ensure all our students feel welcome, and the Buddy Benches help emphasize the importance of uplifting one another.”
According to DoSomething.org more than half of bullying situations stop when another student intervenes. Students are encouraged to go over to the Buddy Benches if they see a classmate there, ask them how they are doing and invite them to play.
“All it takes is one person to make a difference,” Ketchum said. “Teaching students about the value of compassion paves the way for them to become adults who know kindness is always an option.”
The benches are located in areas of the playground where there was previously no seating. Two benches are located near the kickball and soccer fields, and two additional benches are located on top of the hill.