Watch these videos, and read below about this project of the student government.
The students in teachers Maureen Hurley and Dawn Spahn’s Student Government/Service in Schools Kids Care Club (SIS KCC) at P.S. 32 Belmont have worked all year on different service projects, but there is one that they are especially proud of and passionate about: The Friendship Bench.
This project developed over time after students engaged in numerous discussions on identifying and addressing a need in their school community. Their goal was to create something that would have a positive impact that their peers could both see and feel.
The students decided to focus their project on the topic of bullying, as the P.S. 32 community had discussed the issue throughout the year. The student government was determined to create something unique and meaningful to mitigate bullying at their school. After researching the issue further, students decided to build a friendship bench for the P.S. 32 community.
The idea behind the bench is that if a student is feeling lonely, sad, or angry, they could sit on the bench, and someone would approach this person to find out what is wrong and offer their support.
Over the past few months, the students worked diligently on bringing the idea of the friendship bench to fruition. The students researched what kind of bench they wanted and where it would come from. Once they decided on a bench, they began working on how they were going to present it to the rest of the school, including its purpose and how it should be used.
The student government decided that they would break into small groups and create skits to demonstrate different peer mediation scenarios for which the friendship bench could be used. These skits emphasized providing a community and social support network for all students at the school, especially those who may feel left out or bullied.
Some students worked together to create skits for grade K-2 students, while others wrote skits for grade 3-5 students. Over time, the students practiced, rehearsed, and videotaped their skits.
Next, the students brainstormed conversation starters that their peers could use when approaching someone on the bench. Currently, The students are finalizing their presentation of the friendship bench for the larger P.S. 32 school community. The students have prepared speeches, charted conversation starters, videotaped their skits, and are planning to visit each class to teach them about the friendship bench and how they can use it to support their peers and in turn, positively impact their school community.