Class plan has students talking

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Benchmark for inclusion: Year 2 pupils Andrea, Oscar, Alessia and Sienna with the Buddy Bench they helped introduce after taking the idea to principal Bernard Carey. Photo: Kitty Beale

St Joan of Arc Catholic Primary Haberfield’s Year 2 students are making sure that every student at their school feels included at recess and lunch.

The class of 27 students had two ‘Buddy benches’ installed – one in the infants playground and one for Years 3 to 6 – after they were inspired by a YouTube clip in which a Queensland primary school student Charlie Cooper, talked about how he started the initiative at his school after being teased for wearing glasses.

“When someone is sad or they don’t have a friend to play with they sit on the buddy bench and someone will come and say do you want to chat, or do you want to play with me?” said Year 2 student Andrea Catanzarito.

Classmates Oscar Moore,  Alessia Sirna, and  Sienna Lentini said the benches were a good idea. They have seen students use the benches since they were installed in the playground in early September, with those that sit on the benches invited to play handball, tips, basketball or to sit and talk with a group.

Year 2 teacher Natasha Hamilton said the benches were also monitored by Year 6 members of the student safety team.

“The aim is really to help kids socialise,” she said. “If a child is feeling lonely and not having anyone to play with, or excluded they can sit on the buddy bench and someone will go up to them and ask if they’re okay, or what to have a talk or to have a play.

“It’s also for kids who perhaps their best friend is away from school that day or the children they would normally play with perhaps aren’t there for whatever reason. They can sit there and someone will come see how they’re doing.”

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