Including Everyone on the Playground
Even on the last day of school, the buddy bench at Rippleside Elementary School in Aitkin, MN, was working hard. “I sat on our buddy bench, and five kids came up to ask if I needed someone to play with,” said Jason Long, 6th grade teacher. “I didn’t mean to sit on the buddy bench, but it was 80 degrees out, and I needed a quick break!” Mr. Long said the buddy bench has been working since the first day it was installed in the fall of 2018. When students on the playground sit on the bench, it signals to others that they are looking for friends or someone to play with, or that they are feeling excluded. “Exclusion can be the biggest form of bullying. When someone sits on the buddy bench, before you know it, someone will gather them up to go play.” One reason the bench has worked so well is that the staff at the school spoke to the students about the purpose when it was first installed, which Mr. Long said is key. “Education has to take place about the buddy benches.” The fact that the bench has continued to work for so long after the initial introduction is because of the students. “It stuck, which is a testament to our kids.”
After a full year of wind, rain, and Minnesotan snow, Mr. Long said his school’s buddy bench looks just as good as new. ‘It’s still bright red. It looks the same as the day they installed it.” Just like all of Premier Polysteel’s products, the buddy benches are coated with weather-resistant plastisol. The entirety of the bench, including the legs and base, are coated to prevent rusting or fading. They’re built to withstand heavy usage and are guaranteed to not sag in the center. The perforated texture makes the benches more comfortable and helps keep bugs and insects away. Schools can select between twelve vibrant colors to show their school spirit.