WES third graders Omar Elgwaily and Jordan Leitold demonstrate how the “VIB” (Very Important Buddy) program will have designated students whose job will be to keep an eye on the Buddy Benches during recess.

For many elementary students, recess is one of their favorite parts of the day, because it’s time they can play with their friends. However, for some children, recess can be stressful, because they feel alone. They might want to get involved in a game or with a group, but they are shy or simply don’t know how to ask. For these children, Whitemarsh Elementary School (WES) has installed two “Buddy Benches.”

“We get to help people who don’t have a friend to play with,” said Anya Avery, a third grade students at WES. “I think it’s a really good idea.” A Buddy Bench is a place where a child can sit that makes it clear to the other students that the child is looking for a friend. The students at WES were introduced to the new Buddy Benches and dismissed to recess. Within the first five minutes, both benches saw some use. “People can make friends easier,” said third grader Lily Knaggs. “And if they’re really lonely then they can actually have some fun at recess.” Back in the classroom, the children talked about ways to get involved with their classmates at recess, what to do when they see someone sitting on the bench and the importance of continuing new friendships at lunch and on other days on the playground.