Connecting for Kids ‘Beyond the Bench Buddy Bench Training Program’ Comes to Fairview Park Early Education Center and Gilles-Sweet Elementary

Almost every week, school violence and bullying incidents are making headlines across the country. Trying to curb that trend, students in Fairview Park are learning about  kindness and compassion. More than 1,000 students who attend the Fairview Park Early Education Center and Gilles-Sweet Elementary are taking part in the Connecting for Kids Beyond the BenchSM Buddy Bench Training Program.

Students pose with the new Buddy Bench at the Early Education Center.

Funding for this program was provided by Kiwanis Division 14. The Buddy Benches that will be used by the schools were constructed by Ben Routhier of Westlake as part of his Eagle Scout Service Project with help from other Boy Scouts in Troop 77. Early Education Center Pre-School Teacher Liz Loescher painted the floral design on the bench.

Ben Routhier of Westlake, Boy Scout Troop 77, right, works on his Eagle Scout Service Project with Max Karabinus of Boy Scout Troop 208.

Designed by local pediatric psychologist Dr. Meghan Barlow, the Beyond the Bench Buddy Bench Training Program teaches students ways to show kindness and compassion, solve peer conflicts and get along with others. Trained facilitators will meet with students to introduce the concepts and lead them through role-play scenarios to practice what they learned. Although Buddy Benches were originally created to help students establish friendships and encourage play with others at recess, this program takes the concept beyond the playground and even educates families on how they can reinforce these ideas at home.

On April 6, the Buddy Bench for students at the Early Education Center was unveiled to students.

The new bench at Gilles-Sweet will be unveiled April 11.

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