Best friends Jack Pickup, 9, and Harrison Suter, 9, will offer anyone who sits on the buddy bench to join them in soccer or tiggy. Photo Campbell Gellie / The Observer
Best friends Jack Pickup, 9, and Harrison Suter, 9, will offer anyone who sits on the buddy bench to join them in soccer or tiggy. Photo Campbell Gellie / The Observer Campbell Gellie

Buddy benches set to help kids play

HAVING a lonely lunch at Gladstone West State School is a thing of the past with the addition of Buddy Benches made by Gladstone Mens' Shed.

The six benches will be positioned at each year levels' playground area.

When a student sits on a bench other students are supposed to go up to them and invite them to play.

Best friends Jack Pickup and Harrison Suter, who are both nine years old, said it was a good idea.

"It will get people more friends to hang out with," Jack said.

"I'll probably go over and see if they want to join us when we play soccer or sometimes we play tiggy."

Although Harrison has a best friend he said it was good for those who don't.

"If people are very lonely they can come and sit on the bench and then they can play and find their best friends," he said.

The idea came about last year when former year six teacher Kathy Pickup showed her class a video of the Buddy Bench system working in Cairns.

Her class tried to win a Buddy Bench through a competition but was unsuccessful and that's when the community stepped in.

At the West's Schoolwide Positive Behaviour committee meeting, consisting of parents, students and staff, it was tabled to try and install the benches themselves.

The school approached the Gladstone Men's Shed which was more than willing to help and also source sponsorship from the community.

The committee were able to find a sponsor through Guzman Y Gomez which held a burrito day where a percentage of each buritto sale was given to the school.

The P&C funded the rest of the program, and Precision Engraving donated the six plaques.

Deputy Principal Terry Rudder said the community project was a way for the school to move forward as a team.

"It is a great idea having kids take control of how others fit in," he said.

"We're very grateful for the teachers, parents and Mens' Shed for getting it all the way to the point of installing them all around the school."

For the Gladstone Men's Shed it was another example of the 360 degree community service it provides.

For the six different guys who helped build the benches, it gave them something to occupy their minds, physical exercise and a chance to be in a healthy environment.

Meanwhile, what they were making has contributed to the community making Gladstone West State School a better place to be a student.

Secretary Ron Steen said its members were always working to build things and it was good to see where some of it went.



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